By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, May 16th, 2013 at 3:38 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Transcription of a conference call with newly-signed Raiders return specialist/wide receiver Josh Cribbs:
Q: What appealed to you about the Raiders?
Cribbs: I feel like the Raiders are a traditional winning team, like Cleveland is, they won a lot of games in the past, have a history of it. It’s a blue-collar, underdog city. It’d be so great to come here and win games and fight for an opportunity to win games. I feel like they’re moving in the right direction and I would love to be a part of it when they turn things around.
Q: Been here as visiting player, your impressions?
Cribbs: This is a hard-core team. I knew of the tradition, and that’s why I’m going to keep harping on today, I knew of the tradition of this organization and all that it stands for. It’s one thing that stuck (with) me. Not just that, but the coaching staff as well, and the organization. I love the opportunity to play for Bobby April, as special teams coordinator, and have a chance to put his niche on things, great special teams coach, I just want to come here and succeed and I feel I have the best opportunity to do that here in Oakland. I’m familiar with a lot of their guys because I played against them, I had the opportunity to join some fellow former teammates off of my team and keep the ball rolling.
Q: Made your rounds some discussion what shape your knee was in. The Jets GM said knee was right yet . . . unusual for GM to make public comment about someone’s health . . . that aside, where are you physically?
Cribbs: I’m doing well. Never as a player, do I comment on injury, but I believe the firszt game is in September or August and it’s barely June. We’re not lining up to play football. If we were lining up to play football in June, then this would be a hot topic. I will be ready to play football when it’s time to play football, and I think that’s the important thing. I don’t know a GM would come out and say that other than using it as a negotiation tactic. It was well perceived and I think as a whole everybody knew what was going on about that. But I’m an Oakland Raider now, I’m a part of Raider Nation, and that’s one reason, another reason why I chose Oakland. Rich fan base. Similar to Cleveland. They’re a die-hard fan base. They’re all about their team. Win or lose, they hold their team and their players to a high standard and that’s what I won’t have to miss coming to Oakland because it’s the same situation, playing hard for the fans and they’ll reward you.
Q: Are you hoping there will be a role as a receiver as well as a kick returner?
Cribbs: Oh, definitely. I think there’s definitely possibility for competition at that position. At this point, my job is to come in and be a special teams guru, to help solidify our special teams unit in the NFL and to raise our goals and our standards. And we will do that. We will become an elite unit. I’m just fortunate enough to be able to assist in that under coach April.
Q: How much did change in kickoff rules affect kickoff returns league-wide and for yourself?
Cribbs: I think it affected everyone, as well as the coaches and the players, because you’re having to teach a different style of play. You have to re-teach certain fundamentals that you’ve been teaching and coaching styles that have been going on for years. I came out and I was against the rule, but it doesn’t matter because everyone has to deal with it, but at the same time, I came in under a different rules. It wasn’t like I was a rookie when the rules changed and I had an opportunity to move forward in that manner. I had to change my style as well. I kind of still disagree with it, but I’ve go to take it moving, I’ve got to take it rolling and I’ve got to move on with my business in that manner. I still haven’t found a significance for the rule change other than them saying, it’s supposedly supposed to stop injury, but at the same time, I understand that the NFL is trying to make the league safer. I commend them those efforts, but football is football, it’s 100 percent injury, it’s not, if you’re going to get injured, it’s when. We know the sport we sign up for, and I just try to play it as I see it. The rules change every year, certain rule changes, and I hope that in the near future there are not so many rule changes to come. It really kind of dilutes the game of football and it’s not the sport, it’s becoming a different sport than what we all grew up on.
Q: Chris Kluwe said publicly he’ll be joining the Raiders, although no announcement has been made. Your impression of fielding punts from Chris and what it says about the club’s commitment to special teams that they’re going after guys like you and Kluwe?
Cribbs: Definitely, I commend the effort. I also wanted to come to a team that the head coach and the GM and the organization was committed to their special teams unit. I feel like the special teams unit, if you have a great special teams unit, you can have the ability to change the football game. You can also kind of be, when you have a dynamic special teams unit, you can be slightly sub-par on offense or defense with the special teams carrying you. When you don’t have a good special teams, you have to have a good defense and a good offense. But with a dynamic special teams we can set up field position for the offense and pin opposing offenses deep in their own territory to set up a good opportunity for our defense to stop ‘em, so I really commend their efforts in creating a dynamic situation for our special teams to be an elite team in the NFL.