Hard not to see (or hear) Sapp

One thing is for certain about Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp -- you know what is on his mind. Like or it not.

Oakland Raiders head coach Norv Turner shared one thought on his mind -- he's happy not to worry about Sapp as an opponent. Regardless of whether he is a teammate or opponent, Sapp can be seen -- and heard.

"I don't have a role," Sapp said. "I'm just Sapp. That's just what comes with the package. If you don't want to hear my mouth you better put your ears in your pocket or go somewhere else because I'm talking."

And playing.

When the Raiders signed Sapp, who spent 10 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as a free agent last March, Turner recalled another point in his coaching career. Turner was most recently an offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins and was the Washington Redskins head coach from 1994-2000.

"The teams I've been with practiced with Tampa," Turner said. "You appreciate it now because you need the energy. When you really appreciate it is three weeks from now. You can still hear Warren and that helps everyone else keep going."

Quarterback Rich Gannon agreed.

"It's better that he's on our team than playing against him," Gannon said. I've done that too many times. He's an athletic guy. He's got a great motor. He doesn't take many plays off. He causes a lot of havoc up front. He always seems to be around the quarterback. I think he's still got a lot left in the tank."

The Raiders are counting on the 31-year old Sapp to improve a defense that horrible last season. Even mediocre running backs had big days against Oakland last season. Oakland is likely going to employ more 3-4 looks under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who replaced Chuck Bresnahan, to go along with its base 4-3. Sapp, a tackle by trade, would play end in the 3-4 with fellow free agent Ted Washington playing at the tackle spot.

"I don't think it's going to fit me like a glove like the 3-technique for the last nine years," Sapp said. "I'm going to make it fit. It's kind of like Isotoners. You keep sticking your finger in there, it'll get tighter."

Sapp is also looking forward to the idea of playing along side of the 365-pound Washington.

"I remember when they had him and Pat Williams in Buffalo," Sapp said. "Those are some big old human beings. That's a lot of room to eat up. More power to him -- and me."

Many skeptics, however, have questioned the rationale being the Raiders acquisition of Sapp, who has a reputation for being outspoken. Sapp was a dominant player for his first six years in the league. He combined for 29 sacks in 1999-2000. The last three seasons, Sapp's sack total has dwindled as he has combined for 18.5 over the previous three seasons.

Sapp, however, remains energized with his new team two years after helping Tampa Bay clobber Oakland 48-21 in the Super Bowl.

"When it becomes no fun, I'll retire," Sapp said. "It's work but you've got to enjoy yourself. There's nothing like being with the guys running around with fresh air and having a good time."

Turner is having a better time now that he does not need to worry about Sapp as an opponent.


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