Resigning Williams a key move

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.

Throw-in the fact that the Oakland Raiders locker-room turned mutinous. Therefore Williams' positive energy will be a bonus.

Williams missed most of the 2003 season as he continued to recover from knee and toe injuries. Williams, who hails from Rochester, N.Y., visited with the Buffalo Bills before signing with Oakland in April.

"It feels great to be back," Williams said. "I feel like we got a squad that's going to do some great things year. there's still room left on the Raider bandwagon. The train is taking off soon."

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.

"I never was hurt in my life," Williams said. "I was out of the game for 12 weeks but it was actually one of the best things that ever happened to me because by being hurt, I got in touch with my life's passions outside of football. I learned a lot about real estate and grew as a man."

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.

"The biggest thing is that he still does an excellent job in the running game and in pass protection," Turner said.

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.

"I can't say enough about guys like that," Turner said. "With training camp some days start to drag and that's where you need guys like Roland."

Added Williams: "I had the chance to win a championship in St. Louis. It's a lot more than X's and O's. It takes synergy. I feel proud that I experienced that."


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