Door open for Curry, No. 3 wideout

The door could not be more open for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Ronald Curry.

One week after releasing 16-year veteran Tim Brown, the Oakland Raiders have been so pleased with Curry's progress that they are making him the No. 3 receiver behind Jerry Rice and Jerry Porter entering Saturday's preseason opener at San Francisco.

"I feel like I'm getting better every day," Curry said. "I'm getting more reps. It doesn't change the way I approach things. I'm a confident individual anyway. It just makes me think that they believe in my ability."

"I'm competing regardless of whether it's one guy or 10 guys. We're all out here for the same purpose. I'm going to do the best I can do."

The Raiders drafted Curry in 2002 as a quarterback in the seventh round from North Carolina. He spent most of his season on the practice squad in 2002 and caught two passes last season. Curry added that, at this stage, simply being able to focus on the position of wide receiver has helped him. The Raiders also experimented with him as a defensive back.

"You're concentrating on one position," said Curry, who starred as a football and basketball played at North Carolina. "On the practice squad, you don't really focus on one position because you are giving a look on offense and defense."

The Raiders released Brown, who has since signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because they felt his ability was declining. In addition, the Oakland coaching staff felt that young receivers like Curry, Doug Gabriel, Carlos Francis and Johnnie Morant were ready to become viable factors.

In Brown's exit interview, both he and Raiders owner Al Davis had ample praise for Curry.

"I think when you look at Ronald and all these guys, they really have made strides, especially Ronald" Brown said. "I'm really impressed with him. I really love the kid, so it's really good to see him come into his own. I think he's going to be a great player for the organization."

Added Davis: "He just gave up everything for a while and played two years of football at North Carolina. And we drafted him based on his high school football, which was outstanding. As Tim says, maybe, maybe we've got something. So we're looking forward to that."

Now that Curry knows that he is strictly a receiver, he can focus on the finer points of the position.

"You always focus on getting better," Curry said. "You don't want to stay the same. You either get better or you get worse. I'm working on my route running and getting my timing down with the quarterback."

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