Position outlook: Safety

This is one story in a series of position outlooks on the Oakland Raiders. Today, here's a look at safeties:

Looking back: In terms of leadership, the Oakland Raiders suffered perhaps their biggest blow at this position when Rod Woodson ended his season on injured reserve with a knee injury.

The Derrick Gibson experiment continued to fail while Anthony Dorsett's play diminished from the previous season. Gibson won the starting job at strong safety in training camp even though Dorsett out-performed him, something that never sat well with the latter.

Woodson's injury also pressed Terrance Shaw, normally a cornerback, into duty at free safety. First-round draft pick Nnamdi Asomugha, who the Raiders intended to get a long look at corner, also got playing time at safety along with Eric "Crazy" Johnson, who is a hybrid linebacker/safety and special teams standout.

Looking ahead: Even though Woodson is 39 and looked painful to watch walking around the locker-room, Oakland should bring back Woodson if for no other reason than for his knowledge, savvy and leadership.

Many people have also said the Raiders should cut their losses and admit that the Gibson experiment was a mistake. That logic has a lot of merit but will the Raiders do that? Probably not. Gibson's performance has not been what Oakland envisioned when it made him a first-round draft choice in 2001. The only part of safety that Gibson has shown any degree of success is supporting the run.

Dorsett is a free agent and given the Raiders insistence of Gibson being the starter, the former is likely to be looking for work elsewhere. Johnson is a free agent and, in effect, a man without a position but the Raiders are certain to make a strong effort to keep him.

Asomugha fits in somewhere but the question is where?


SB Report Top Stories