Raiders arrive, Gannon reportedly to join CBS

On a day when wide receiver Jerry Porter arrived wearing a FedEx uniform, the 2005 edition of the Oakland Raiders arrived for training camp in Napa, CA, Thursday without the delivery of a staple of the last six seasons – quarterback Rich Gannon.

According to an Associated Press report, Gannon will join CBS Sports as an NFL game analyst. The 39-year old Gannon has yet to formally retire from the Oakland Raiders but it was pretty much anticipated that Gannon would not return after finishing the last two seasons on injured reserve.

Gannon, who was the 2002 NFL MVP, sustained a fractured a vertebra in his neck in the third game of the season Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Gannon.

Gannon will finish his 17-year career with 28,743 yards passing and 180 touchdowns in his career with Minnesota, Washington, Kansas City and Oakland. Gannon, however, made his biggest mark as a Raider, headed by his MVP award while leading the Raiders to the Super Bowl in the 2002 season, their first in 19 seasons. Gannon passed for 4,689 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing more than 67 percent of his passes.

The Raiders, however, have not been the same since that season in registering a combined 9-23 record but are expected to show improvement for a couple of reasons this season. How much is anyone's guess. Oakland's offense looks explosive on paper after acquiring wide receiver Randy Moss and running back Lamont Jordan.

Moss, who was acquired in trade from Minnesota, shunned the media, while Jordan spoke at length. The Raiders signed Jordan as a free agent shortly after acquiring Moss. Jordan is eagerly anticipating his long-awaited chance to be a featured running back after backing up Curtis Martin for four seasons as a New York Jet.

"I tell myself to go out there and be myself," Jordan said. "You don't want to step outside your character. It's just a new uniform, new team, new coast. I'm getting excited about the opportunity."

Added Porter: "We want to get a good bond with everyone working together. We want to get through the preseason healthy and focus on New England (Oakland's season-opening opponent). We were 5-11 last year. That's enough in itself to get the juices flowing, knowing we have to get better than that."

The Raiders are counting on familiarity to breed success in the form of being in their second season under head coach Norv Turner's offense and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's scheme. Turner and Ryan got another shot despite a double-digit loss season, which is a fate they do not figure to survive this time around if there's a repeat.

"The fact that everybody has had a year in this system really helps," Tight end Teyo Johnson said. "We're not learning everything again and now it should be more fine-tuning a system that has been in place."

Defensively, however, most people believe that Oakland does not look markedly better than the unit that has finished 32nd and 30th in total defense the last two seasons.

In fact, most people have reasoned that the Raider offense might have to score say, 40 points per game, to offset the defensive weaknesses. Defensive end turned linebacker Tyler Brayton is one player eager to prove that the defense will carry its weight.

"That definitely stings every time you hear someone in the media say how weak our defense is," Brayton said. "I think we have a better grasp of what we need to do."

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


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