Buchanon can help on two fronts

Phillip Buchanon can help the Raiders defensively and on special teams if he can stay healthy.


            The calendar suggests that Oakland Raiders' cornerback Phillip Buchanon is a second-year player for the 2003 NFL regular season.

            True, the Raiders drafted Buchanon in the first round of the 2002 draft from Miami (Fla.) and he played six games. Buchanon, however, also landed on injured reserve after that amount of time because of a broken wrist. Therefore, the 2003 campaign is somewhat like his first season.

            Buchanon, who participated in the second day Oakland's three-day minicamp today in Alameda, began last season as the nickel cornerback behind starter Tory James before the Raiders inserted him into the lineup. Buchanon's return to health would benefit Oakland on two fronts – as a cornerback and a punt return specialist.

            Buchanon showed that he is electrifying with the ball in his hands. On 15 punt returns; he averaged 11.9 yards including an 83-yarder for a touchdown in a 52-25 win over Tennessee. The Raiders' punt return game suffered a noticeable decline after Buchanon was forced to miss the rest of the season.

Buchanon also returned an interception 81-yards for a touchdown to help the Raiders defeat Buffalo 49-31. Like most rookie corners, Buchanon got challenged his share of the time – winning some and losing some. Buchanon, however, is capable of evolving into a "shutdown" corner.

"We need Buchanon as a versatile as we can possibly get him," Oakland defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said. "We feel like he can shut people down and we've got to take advantage of it. He's got to take advantage of the opportunity."


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


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