Williams an underrated acquisition

Since the Oakland Raiders plan on employing the ground game more frequently with first-year head Norv Turner aboard, re-acquiring tight end Roland Williams is more important than meets the eye.

Williams missed most of the 2003 season as he continued to recover from knee and toe injuries. The native of Rochester, N.Y. visited with the Buffalo Bills, the team he grew up watching, before signing with the Oakland Raiders in April.

Williams played for the Raiders in 2001-2002 after being acquired via trade from the St. Louis Rams. Williams underwent surgery after the 2002 season and went to training camp last season before Oakland released him. Williams eventually signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Raiders missed Williams perhaps more than they thought in last year's 4-12 season. Williams is a serviceable receiver but outstanding blocker. Granted, Williams' presence might not have been worth, say, three or four wins but it might have prevented Oakland quarterbacks from taking unnecessary hits and opened up a few more holes in the running game.

Oakland's other two tight ends, Teyo Johnson and Doug Jolley, are pretty good receivers but are not as proficient as Williams as a blocker. In fairness to Jolley and Johnson, they did not start playing tight end until later in their career. Jolley, a third-year player, was recruited by BYU initially to play quarterback. Johnson, a second-year man from Stanford, is a college wide receiver making the transition to tight end.

If the Raiders are serious about running the ball, however, they need Williams' blocking prowess.

Williams could also loom large in another area – leadership. In his two seasons with Oakland, the 28-year old was one of the emotional and more respected leaders last season. Given that the Raiders' locker-room morale sunk to an all-time recent low, Williams' personality might instantly lift a few people's spirits.


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