Raiders sign Middleton, Mohring

Bill Callahan's influence as the Raiders head coach is already being felt. Two weeks ago offensive lineman Frank Middleton appeared ready to part ways with Oakland. An unrestricted free agent, Middleton had piqued a few teams interest this offseason and was reportedly ready to sign elsewhere before having a change of heart and re-signing with the Raiders on Thursday. Credit Callahan, Oakland's first-year head coach who tutored Middleton last season as the team's offensive line coach.

''I enjoyed my year with the Raiders and working with my teammates and Bill Callahan,'' said Middleton in a statement released by the team. ''I'm very happy to return now with Coach Callahan as the team's head coach.'' Middleton's re-signing gives Oakland some much-needed insurance on its offensive line. Right guard Mo Collins sat out most of the second half of the 2001 season with a fractured leg; in his place Middleton started 12 games and played well. Collins is expected to regain his starting spot this season, but look for Middleton to get a serious look at left guard, where a starting spot is open following the retirement of Steve Wisniewski. The Raiders also signed defensive lineman Mike Mohring, who played for the San Diego Chargers since 1997. Mohring can play both tackle and end, which is why Oakland is giving him a look.

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