Is Sunday's game a free agent audition for Porter?

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter says that playing in front of a nationally televised audience makes no difference to him. This one, however, might be one that will make a variation in belief despite his statements to the contrary.

The Oakland Raiders (3-7) visit the Denver Broncos Sunday night in a game that will air on ESPN.

When asked if he gets more juiced for such games, Porter replied, "Not me. I want to play hard every chance I get. The national audience just adds to it. Ultimately, it's about playing against the guy in front of you."

That guy is Denver cornerback Champ Bailey, whom many football scouts and experts view as the best in the NFL. In the first meeting, a 31-3 Denver blowout over the Raiders, Bailey shadowed Porter for much of the game. Porter caught three passes in that game for just 21 yards.

"There's a good chance," Porter said of the possibility of drawing Bailey on Sunday. "Denver might not see the need to do that again. You never can tell. He's got good size. He's very quick and can run with just about any receiver in the league."

There could, however, be another reason Porter might look to shine regardless of what he may say. Porter sounded off earlier this season that he would void the last season of his contract after learning that the Raiders reportedly had him on the trading block. He has one year left on a six-year contract he signed as a rookie in 2000.

This came shortly after the Raiders traded Jerry Rice to Seattle. Oakland released Tim Brown during training camp. Porter, whom the Raiders drafted in the second round in 2000, learned under the tutelage of the two future Hall-of-Famers and had his long-awaited opportunity to be the lead horse.

When asked if Sunday's game was a free agent audition, Porter said, "Every game has been a free agent audition for me. I'm trying to go out and try to put the best product I can out there. Whatever happens for me. I'm leaving that one alone." Then, when asked what he has shown so far, Porter said, "I'm leaving that one alone too."

Porter has had a decent, but not great, season in 2004. Porter has recorded 38 catches for 523 yards but just one touchdown. Even though he is on pace to top his career high in catches and yards, Porter has been too inconsistent to be considered a top-flight receiver despite his talent.

Porter, however, relented slightly from his stance earlier this season when asked if he would like to come back as a Raider in 2005 and beyond. His chances of returning, however, might not be any greater." "I'd love to come back to this team," Porter said. "I've been here for five years and have become pretty comfortable here. I wouldn't like to have to uproot everything. I'd have to get my daughter out of school here and take her wherever and aclimmate her with a new time zone, new city, new team, new coach and all of that nonsense. I really don't want to do that but it's the nature of the game."

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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