Some rookies may play more than initially expected


The popular belief after the 2003 NFL draft was that the Oakland Raiders would not press their rookies into duty because they had so many established players.

            While two exhibition games may not warrant drawing conclusions, some of those first year players may be on the field more than anticipated. That is attributable to injuries to veterans and the first-year players making a solid impression. Here's a closer look at all 10 Oakland draft picks:

  Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback (first round): He was expected to compete for playing time in the nickel defense but a shoulder injury has kept him sidelined.

 Tyler Brayton, defensive end (first round): Even without Tony Bryant's release and DeLawrence Grant's injury, the Raiders expected Brayton to push for a starting job. Brayton being a first-teamer remains to be seen but, at worst, he figures to be a regular in the rotation.

 Teyo Johnson, tight end (second round): So far, the move from wide receiver to tight end has gone pretty smoothly. Doug Jolley figures to start but look for the Raiders to find creative situations to put Jolley and Johnson on the field at the same time.

 Sam Williams, defensive end (third round): So far, the move from outside linebacker to defensive end has gone pretty well. Look for Williams to log some snaps.

 Justin Fargas, running back (third round): Other than his fumble at the goal line against St. Louis, Fargas has been very impressive. Could he eventually make Tyrone Wheatley expendable? Too early to say yes or no, but that possibility is not totally crazy.

 Shurron Pierson, defensive end (fourth round): His blocked extra point preserved a 7-6 win over St. Louis and saved everyone from overtime agony in exhibition. Pierson, however, still faces an uphill climb to earn a roster spot.

 Doug Gabriel, wide receiver (fifth round): He has helped his cause in earning a roster spot. However, with fellows by the name of Rice, Brown and Porter, don't expect much playing time at receiver.

 Dustin Rykert, guard/tackle (sixth round): Could be a good low-cost swingman but faces an uphill climb to earn a roster spot.

 Siddeeq Shabazz, safety (seventh round): Solid against the run but will be hard-pressed to last beyond exhibition season.

 Ryan Hoag, wide receiver (seventh round): Intriguing prospect but odds a bit too steep.

 Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at

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