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Sapp looks good at DE

8/16/2004 - Oakland Raiders

NAPA, Calif. -- Five observations on the Oakland Raiders, based on practices.


1.  To be honest, Warren Sapp doesn't look all that bad at defensive end in the 3-4. During one practice drill, he gave a karate chop to left tackle Robert Gallery and then flung his body around him. Once Sapp's hip got around Gallery's left leg, Sapp was off to the quarterback. Sapp has been a defensive tackle all of his career, but he's an amazing athlete and playing at the defensive end spot shouldn't be a problem.

2.  The third receiver for now is Ronald Curry, a great athlete who may have finally found the right position. He's tried safety and quarterback, but Curry is a big receiver who actually runs some nice routes. As a former quarterback, he knows where to place his body to help a quarterback in zones. Curry came out of nowhere to claim this job.


3.  The starting running back appears to be Tyrone Wheatley, who has found new life at the age of 32. To handle the pounding, Wheatley bulked up to 248 pounds. He looks quicker and even has good speed running to the outside. Norv Turner is picking among four backs for playing time, but the odds are favoring Wheatley as the starter and second-year back Justin Fargas as the top backup.

4.  The Raiders will run a lot of two tight end sets and they have two good ones. Teyo Johnson is the most athletic, but Doug Jolley is the most accomplished. Regardless, it's a good one-two punch at tight end, second best to the Chiefs who have Tony Gonzalez and Kris Wilson.

5.  While cornerback Charles Woodson holds out, Phillip Buchanon is ready to grab the spotlight. He had two interceptions in practice early this week. His goal for the season is to grab 15. As he says, that's why he's called "Showtime.''

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.