Wheatley familar with Turner philosophy

With every new situation, there is a previous connection, even if indirect, somewhere. That case is apparent with Oakland Raiders running back Tyrone Wheatley and first-year Oakland head coach Norv Turner.

Turner spent the better part of seven seasons as the Washington Redskins head coach while Wheatley spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the New York Giants. Those two teams play each other twice per season.

Now they are together with the Oakland Raiders.

In most cases, an offensive player would pay closest attention to opposing defenses and vice versa. Wheatley, however, took notice o Turner's offensive philosophy.

"You pretty much know it will be a clock-eating game," Wheatley said. "You also know that at any given time they can beat you with the long ball. He wants to keep that eighth man in the box."

In an era where many fans are enamored with the forward pass, Turner's philosophy of beating defenses with a steady diet of the run with the occasion vertical pass is similar to what owner Al Davis likes.

"I don't look at it as quote, ‘pounding the ball,'" Wheatley said. "You think of football as a chess game."

The 6-foot, 235-pound Wheatley should be tailor-made for this offense. The 32-year old Wheatley is not likely to get say 25-carries per game but he, Amos Zereoue, and Justin Fargas are likely to combine for about 400 carries.

The Raiders relied on a pass-heavy approach in 2002 on the way to reaching the Super Bowl. Injuries to Fargas and since departed Charlie Garner along with being down to the No. 3 quarterback (Rick Mirer), forced Oakland to rely more on running ball. As a result, Wheatley enjoyed a statistically productive second half of the season. Wheatley carried the ball 159 times (124 in the second half) for 678 yards (541 in the second half) and four touchdowns.

"I never really look at it as a defined role," Wheatley said. "I play what I play and that's the bottom line. You can't expect anything. It gets hard doing that but at the same time, ‘What are you going to do?'"


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