ALAMEDA — Linebacker Sio Moore confirmed this week what all reporters following the Oakland Raiders could see but were unable to report due to team media restrictions.
Moore has been practicing at the “Will” linebacker position, otherwise known as the weak side.
This frees up Moore to rush more often, adding fuel to the duo of Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley.
“I’m doing what I’m asked to do. Playing the Will spot right now. … I did this in college, you know. I started out as a Will, and then moved to Sam, where Sam was outside linebacker and down free safety. Moving from Sam to Will here, again, it’s nothing that’s abnormal. I just try to use my versatility and continue to show my coaches and teammates.”
In basic defensive schemes, the Sam linebacker covers the tight end, and sometimes the slot receiver, while the Will or weak side linebacker is used as a pass rusher or a run stopper.
The Raiders appear to be mixing things up along the defensive side, something they’re becoming known for. They don’t want to be predictable, and after seeing Seattle destroy their division foe in Denver, the team is doing anything it can to maximize their potential.
Sideline observers have been aware of the new position, at least for OTAs, but have been unable to report on it due to strict reporting policies set forth by the Raiders.
Perhaps any advantage, though incredibly early and nearly meaningless, is an advantage nonetheless.
Head coach Dennis Allen offered some basis for the move:
“When we get into games, the more things guys can do, the more we’re able to adjust. He has the skill set to play that position and we’ll continue to work with him through the rest of OTAs and training camp. We’re going to put the best three guys on the field, and whoever those guys are will be on the field and play.”
Moore, who ranked near the top of the league at 4-3 outside linebacker according to Pro Football Focus, welcomes the switch as an opportunity to get better:
“My goal is not to be just a linebacker, it’s to be the best linebacker there is, so the more I can do, the more I can learn, and the faster I can learn it and the faster I can produce and be a part of something, then we have a situation”
The team drafted Moore during the third round of the 2013 draft, and have done well on the investment thus far. After adding Khalil Mack with their fifth-overall pick of this year’s draft, the linebacker corps could be one of the best in the league. But Mack will need to live up to the hype, to be sure.
Raiders address potential bullying
Last season, the Miami Dolphins locker room caught fire after veteran guard Richie Incognito took hazing just a little too far.
Well, according to Jonathan Martin and the NFL, it was way too far. The Raiders’ brass doesn’t want that to ever happen in Alameda.
The league will send representative to visit every NFL team, doing what they can to prevent any other similar indecent, and curb rookie hazing. Dennis Allen said that Oakland is doing it’s part, too:
“There’s been some things that we’ve done to address (bullying). “That was one of the first things that we talked about when we got this group together. … We really limited the rookie hazing as part of our culture and the way that we do things. I don’t believe in that.”
“We’ll continue to monitor that locker room on a daily basis. That’s a never-ending process. You want people to be comfortable in their work environment because you want to be able to hold people accountable for doing their jobs.”
No doubt, a hazing scandal in Oakland would be a major setback in a rebuilding process that has been heralded around the league as exceptional.
Second year cornerback D.J. Hayden was seen wearing a walking boot at practice Monday, while the quasi-rookie has some catching up to do. He missed a chunk of the 2013 offseason recovering from a major heart surgery following an injury in college, and has an opportunity to set himself apart this season.
Allen described the injury as a “rolled ankle,” though it’s fair to be skeptical since walking boots aren’t normally used for a simple injury.
Linebacker Kevin Burnett is also hobbled, along with second-year running back Latavius Murray, guard Lucas Nix and defensive lineman Anthony Smith. Hayden and the aforementioned players were the only players on the 90 man roster not practicing.