Coleman should again provide change of pace at DT

Rod Coleman's quickness is a nice change of pace to Dana Stubblefield's size John Parrella's strength.

 

Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Rod Coleman is not the most conventional fit for his position but the team should have a similar three-man rotation as last season.

            Coleman is listed at 6-foot-2, and anywhere from 265 to 285-pounds, depending on where you look. That size is small by defensive tackle standards in an era where 330-plus pounders that clog up blockers and gaps are commonplace.

            Coleman, however, recorded a team-high 11 quarterback sacks last season despite being the third man in the defensive tackle rotation who plays in spots behind starters John Parrella and Sam Adams.

            The Raiders released Adams, who signed with Buffalo, and signed Dana Stubblefield from San Francisco. Oakland will have a setup of 300-pounders in Stubblefield and Parrella as starters with Coleman's quickness providing a change of pace off the bench.

Therein lies another irony with Coleman. If a backup defensive lineman is going to be a team's leading sacker, it is more likely to be a defensive end that is a team's third-down pass rush specialist than a defensive tackle.

Coleman actually played fewer snaps this season. He started just two games last season whereas in 2001 he started six games, mostly because of Darrell Russell's suspension. Coleman combines his quickness by being strong for his size, ability to change direction and a relentless mentality.

He totaled 38 tackles and four stuffs, tackles for lost yardage.

Conventional wisdom suggests that bigger tackles would be harder to block than smaller ones. In a sense, however, that notion might be the opposite because as a generalization the bigger ones are not likely to combine their size with a smaller guy's quickness. In addition, it might be harder to tell where a quicker player will go.

The Raiders drafted Coleman in 1999 as an outside linebacker in the fifth-round from East Carolina before moving him to defensive end. Coleman played sparingly as a rookie before getting moved to defensive tackle in his second season. At the time, Coleman's position coach, Mike Waufle, described Coleman's move as "going from a standing, upright and thinking position to a snarling beast of burden."

Coleman wears No. 57, more likely associated with linebackers than defensive linemen. Coleman, however, will line up at defensive end occasionally when the Raiders go from a 4-3 front to a 3-4. Coleman has especially benefited from the passion of Parrella, who signed with the Raiders as a free agent from San Diego. Parrella has an exceptional work ethic that sets the pace for his linemates.

 

Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at vdad7@yahoo.com


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