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Camp questions: Can Higgins return to ’08 form?

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, July 15th, 2010 at 12:08 pm in Oakland Raiders.

With reporting day less than two weeks away, the third in a series of questions and issues to be sorted out in Napa:

Will the real Johnnie Lee Higgins please stand up?

Any hopes Higgins had of building on a second season when he had established himself as one of the NFL’s most explosive players were ended in Week 1, when he took a ferocious hit from San Diego’s Eric Weddle. Higgins was knocked out on the play, and although he insisted he was fine when he resumed play in Week 3, statistical evidence suggests the hit KO’d his season as well.

He finished the season averaging a miniscule 5.4 yards per punt attempt with no return longer than 19 yards. On offense, Higgins caught 19 passes for 233 yards. In 15 games, Higgins never reached the end zone. One year after having nine plays which measured 35 yards or more, Higgins had none.

Contrast that with 2008, when Higgins was one of the few bright lights, scoring a team-high six of the Raiders’ 22 touchdowns. He gave Oakland the capability of scoring from anywhere on the field, with punt return scores of 93, 89 and 80 yards and touchdown receptions of 84, 56 and 29 yards. Higgins’ six touchdowns came from an average distance of 71.8 yards.

It’s the kind of playmaking skill Al Davis loves, and something special teams coach John Fassel as well as offensive coordinator Hue Jackson will hope to rejuvenate during this year’s training camp.

The ability to return kicks can come and go. In his first two years as a Raider, Phillip Buchanon had the look of one of the great punt return specialists in the league _ before he mysteriously lost the nerve.

The Raiders selected Jacoby Ford, a speedy rookie out of Clemson, in the fourth round. Ford’s ticket to the roster puts him in direct competition with Higgins as a return specialist and wide receiver. Nick Miller, the undrafted free agent who made the 53-man roster last season only to spend 15 weeks on the inactive list with a broken fibula, is back for another go-round.

If Higgins can perform like a reasonable facsimile of the player he was in 2008, his spot on the roster is a no-brainer. But if he is the tentative, error-prone player of a year ago, it’s a different story.

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  • RaiderRockstar

    5pm in Podunk. later gents!

  • Nnamdi21

    I know it doesn’t really seem like the place to be talking about this but heres a RAIDER related story…

    Silver and Black Sleepers pt.4

    http://www.raidernationstation.com/2010_off_season

  • J Wiggle

    The EPA and the Jones Act were the inhibters?

    I guess you’re saying Obama was slow to order procedural changes within the EPA, or slow to veto the Jones Act (whatever that is)?

    I’d ask why BP didn’t just buy this stuff from Denmark or Taiwan, or mayne lease it, and put it in play?

  • J Wiggle

    Yeah right, and I am a Celtics fan.

    ——————————————————-

    LOL!

    What, I don’t fit the profile?

  • priesttj

    If JLH gets his stones back he was dynamic in his ability to break a big one. He has never been a reliable reciever but his speed would stretch the field. J Ford is a bigger stronger version of JLH. His route running is forgettable. His ahnds are questionable but he is a dynamic with the ball in his hands. It will tak ehim 3 years at least to become a viable option at WR.

    As I’ve said before Murphy is capable of becoming a go to guy putting up significant #’s yearly. DHB is capable of become a real star one of the most feared WR’s in the game. His size and athleticism is phenomnal. He’s as big as Fitzgerald and as physical he just needs to make plays and get his confidence up. With that breakneck speed he could prove worth his draft status.I bet that would shock evryone in here. But if what I’m hearing about DHB is true your onpinion of him is about to change to atke 180% turn. They continue to rage about this kid. Calling him the most improved player on the team. SCARY……all I can say is DB’s be afraid be very afraid. The only thing that I don’t like about what they’re saying about DHB is that there no room for anything but disappointment because he certainly will have a tough time living up to the praise.

  • fat kidd

    mistabrown clown now tell me the coast gaurd are all democrats and make my day

  • fat kidd

    sistabrown you soak up republican bull like a shamwow.

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  • fat kidd

    JLH on the way out?

    ——————————————————————————–

    Johnnie Lee Higgins-WR-Raiders Jul. 15 – 3:20 pm et

    Raiders KR/WR Johnnie Lee Higgins is believed to be on the roster bubble heading into training camp.

    Higgins was never the same as a receiver or returner after he got KO’d by an Eric Weddle hit early last season. He’ll have to recapture his explosive 2008 form to hold off dynamic rookie Jacoby Fordy as the team’s primary returner.
    Source: Oakland Tribune

    sad but pretty much true. I’d like to see what Ford can do for sure, JLH was a completely different player after that hit and the numerous times JaMarcus hung him out to dry.
    __________________
    Silver n Blog baby http://raidership.blogspot.com/

  • priesttj

    If he’s cut we don’t lose a whole lot if anything there’s a lot of compettition for what he did. Like I said he never was a reliable WR his weakness was route running. So I don’t look at him as a WR he was a teams guy. J Ford is as good as it gets in that area, also he has better upside as WR with his size. Chaz was our #1 last year but with DHB and Murphy in their soph seasons that is no longer a must. It’s 3 guy’s that can filll that role. It’s the depth where we have to be more formidable. So we’ll see what happens…

  • priesttj

    Louis Murphy had a decent rookie year and now I think he’s poised to do what this tam needs in a go to guy.

  • fat kidd

    T.O.’s destination could be tied to training camps opening
    Posted by Mike Florio on July 15, 2010 6:13 PM ET
    Though it remains unclear whether and to what extent teams genuinely are interested in free-agent receiver Terrell Owens, there’s a quartet of teams that face significant restrictions on their ability to sign players who became free agents via the expiration of their contracts as of the first day of the 2010 league year.

    Under the rules of the “Final Eight Plan,” the final four teams from the 2009 playoffs face stiff restrictions on the acquisition of unrestricted free agents. Per Article XXI, Section 9, the limitation disappears upon the launch of the first training camp.

    The Cowboys, one of the participants in the Hall of Fame game, open camp with an afternoon practice on July 24.

    And so it’s possible that one of the conference finalists — the Jets, Colts, Vikings, and/or Saints — are waiting for July 24 before signing T.O., with the exception of the Vikings. Or, for that matter, other unrestricted free agents who remain available.

    Again, this applies only to players who became unrestricted free agents via the expiration of their contracts. No restrictions apply to signing players who were cut.

  • Drexl

    T.O. needs to kick Mo to the unemployment line.
    I honestly think I would have to Tom Cable that woman the first time she opened her pie hole anywhere near my hearing zone.

    Just sayyinnn,

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    JLH is still the most explosive player on the offense. If DMAC gets a mulligan….DHB gets a mulligan…my boy JLH gets a mulligan.

    You guys forgot about that Pittsburgh game…..he got hit up last year and played in a gawdawful offense with the worst QB in league history (JaDavis)_.

    So JLH is fine with me. He’s capable of repeating 2008…he was the #2 down the stretch and got the job done.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    No to T.O….don’t need him. Stay with the young guys on offense. Murphy, Schilens, JLH and DHB, with Miller at TE.

    That’s enough! Now that we have a professional QB and a real O.C

  • priesttj

    SnB

    we’ll see, that mulligan will only last past preseason if he gives the coaches a reason to make it last. I like JLH but he hurt us last year with bad field position. We can’t blame every damn thing that went wrong last year on Russell. He had his share in it but so did others.

  • Jivanich

    Lets just say it:

    Johnnie Lee is not going to make the team. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford can more then handle the job of running fast and dropping the ball. JLH gave raider fans something to be excited about in 2008. Good receivers don’t let injuries and big hits take away from their production (See Chaz Schilens & Anquan Boldin). Finding his groove returning punts this summer could change my mind, but until then J.L.H = C.U.T.

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