Sapp energized to be a Raider

Defensive tackle Warren Sapp might have changed teams but not personalities.

Sapp, who Oakland signed as a free agent from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, gave Bay area reporters plenty of material Saturday on the second day of their three-day minicamp.

The Oakland Raiders are counting heavily on Sapp and fellow free agent defensive tackle Ted Washington to shore up a defense that was horrible last season, especially against the run.

Oakland was third in the NFL in run defense in 2002, when it reached the Super Bowl before losing to the Sapp-led Bucs. Last year, however, running lanes opened up like a hospitality suite as the Raiders yielded 156 yards per game on the ground. Even mediocre backs had big days against the Raiders.

"I'm just learning now," Sapp said. "They had a bunch of good players before I got here."

The Raiders are expected to experiment with more 3-4 alignments under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan after being mostly a 4-3 unit under Chuck Bresnahan. Oakland should get a big lift in a healthy John Parrella returns. Parrella helped Oakland's run defense improve after coming as a free agent from San Diego.

"It's always nice to have deadly bullets," Sapp said. "It's doesn't matter if it's 40 or 45 caliber. Just load the gun and shoot it. The tackle has to be the motor that makes the defense run."

Some skeptics wonder if Sapp is indeed still that igniter. Sapp was a dominant defensive player since coming into the league in helping turn Tampa Bay's defense from being a laughingstock to one feared around the league. Sapp's statistical productive, however, has declined since his banner season in 2000.

"Rob pretty much has me in the same spot," Sapp said. "There's not that much difference between the 3 and the 5 (technique)."

Sapp had been rumored to be going to Cincinnati before the Raiders came into the picture. Sapp's decision to join the Raiders was simple in his mind, "Just look at the talent on Cincinnati and the Raiders."

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