By Steve Corkran
Thursday, September 29th, 2011 at 2:30 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders coach Hue Jackson met with Bob Wylie at the Senior Bowl in January. It didn’t take long for Wylie to make a strong impression upon Jackson and earn a job on his staff.
Yet, it wasn’t until today that Wylie was made available to the local media for the first time since he replaced Jim Michalczik. Wylie more than made up for lost time by waxing poetic about everything from his philosophy to the play of his linemen to magic. Yes, magic.
Some might say that what Wylie has accomplished in such a short time is nothing short of magical, given he had no time with his players in the offseason, wasn’t here last season and he had to replace left guard Robert Gallery and right offensive tackle Langston Walker.
The Raiders offensive line has allowed only two sacks in three games — quarterback Jason Campbell tripped on one of those — and it has blocked well enough for running back Darren McFadden to lead the league in rushing.
“He’s everything I thought he’d be, and more,” Jackson said. “I’m really glad he’s here, and he’s done a sensational job. We have a long way to go, and he understands that.”
Wylie has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, given he has coached in the NFL for more than two decades and offensive linemen for even longer.
Center Samson Satele says he is amazed by the magic tricks that Wylie uses during meetings to break the tedium. He said he is even more amazed at how well the offensive line has gelled in such a short period of time.
“Oh, yes, without OTAs and none of that, just the bond that we had,” Satele said. “We started with Wiz at left guard (in the) third preseason game. This is our fourth game, and for us to solidify like this is awesome.”
Stefen Wisniewski is starting as a rookie, Jared Veldheer is at left offensive tackle in only his second season and Khalif Barnes is starting at right tackle for the first time in his seven-year NFL career.
Barnes said what people are seeing in games now is a manifestation of the teachings of Wylie and assistant line coach Steve Wisniewski, as well as hard work during training camp in Napa.
“What we tried to do was work so hard, make it as hard as you can during practice, then when Sunday comes it slows down,” Barnes said. “I wouldn’t say exactly easier but it slows down for you, and if it can slow down for you that’s half the game right there.”
Wylie said the key is getting players to understand the value of leverage. Most players in the NFL play too high, he said. It’s about using the leverage of the upper and lower body, maximizing your strenghts and repetition.
“My whole philosophy of blocking is, you need to create leverage,” Wylie said. “Period. And I don’t care what position. Whether it’s the tight ends, backs, receivers, the whole object of the deal is, the body has two power producing angles. There’s an upper body power angle and there’s a lower body power angle. And it’s the way it’s worked since the good dawn of time. It’s the way your body is constructed, and I try to teach them how the body works.”
Wylie said he hasn’t changed any of his drills since training camp.
“I really just consider myself nuts and bolts, down to earth,” Wylie said. “Nothing fancy, no frills. They know they’re going to carry their lunchpails to work and they’re going to work all day and, at the end of the day, they’re going to leave and when they come back tomorrow, they’re going to the same thing again.”
HUFF MISSES PRACTICE
Free safety Michael Huff was in uniform at practice, but he did not participate, according to Jackson.
Huff was running around during the early part of practice. However, he apparently wasn’t able to participate in full-team drills.
“I’m not going to say it’s a bad sign,” Jackson said. “Obviously, we’re being overly cautious. We have to make sure that he is where he needs to be. We have to put healthy players out there.”
Huff suffered a concussion against the Jets on Sunday and missed most of the game. He passed the mandatory tests for players who suffer a concussion and practiced Wednesday in a limited capacity.
Huff was not available for comment in the locker room during media access.
JACKSON THANKFUL FOR FAN SUPPORT
The Raiders sold out Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. That marks the second sellout in as many games this season and equals the total from the past two seasons combined.
Jackson said the fans’ support is validation that the Raiders are playing a quality brand of football and that people want to see what all the fuss is about.
“It’s tremendous,” Jackson said. “It truly means that the fans are beginning to truly like and understand what we’re doing here. I thank them for that. Our players do and our organization does. Now we need to go out and play Raider football the way we know we can play and give them something to keep screaming about.”
MAYO ON MCFADDEN
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo will be playing against running back Darren McFadden for the first time in his NFL career. Yet, he already knows what to expect.
Mayo played against McFadden in college twice, when Mayo was at Tennessee and McFadden at Arkansas.
“Obviously, he had a great college career,” Mayo said. “Ever since he came in as a freshman, he was a great running back. Great player and he’s very dangerous.”
MITCHELL ON THE MEND
Backup safety Mike Mitchell danced around whether he will play Sunday. Ultimately, Mitchell conceded that he is ready to play and is at the mercy of the trainers and coaches as to whether he will be allowed to go this Sunday.
If Mitchell plays for the first time this season, it’s a strong bet that he will be lined up against Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez.
“He’s very important,” Mitchell said. “Just the fact that he can be back out there playing is great if we need him. He’s a good football player, one of the star players on our team. He brings a lot of energy so if he’s able to go we’re going to stick him out there, that’s for sure.”
FORD READY TO ROLL
Wide receiver/kick returner Jacoby Ford said his injured hamstring is feeling much better and that he is ready to play in a game for the first time since Sept. 12.
“I’ll be on the field,” Ford said. “I definitely will be playing. I don’t know how much, don’t know when. Whenever they want me in there, then I’m going to go.”
Ford fielded kicks Thursday, which means there’s a chance he will take over the job held by Nick Miller and Taiwan Jones, respectively, the past two games.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Yeah, I think the defensive backs really believe it’s real. ‘Show me another trick, coach. How’d you do that?’ — Wylie on the effect of his magic tricks on his players
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