In one respect, however, the Raiders braced themselves for this day when they signed Collins as a free agent last year during the offseason. In terms of performance, the Oakland Raiders have a player who is clearly ready to assume the role of No. 1 quarterback.
It stands to reason, however, that even though
Gannon's retirement was expected, his leadership will
be missed despite the fact that the Raider players and
coaches are saying all the right things about Collins'
ability to lead.
The Raiders went into last season not knowing whether
Gannon could sufficiently recover from his
season-ending shoulder injury and decided, unlike
2003, to have a viable backup. So, in came the
talented but enigmatic Collins.
Gannon then was placed on injured reserve for the
second consecutive season with a cracked vertebra
suffered in a Week 3 contest against Tampa Bay.
Collins entered that game and looked solid in
completing 16-of-27 passes for 228 yards and one
touchdown. The next seven games, however, Collins had
a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 4-11 before
rebounding over the next six contests with 16
touchdowns and five interceptions. He struggled,
however, in the season finale with three interceptions
in a 13-6 loss to Jacksonville.
Collins, however, expects himself to be better and
more consistent this season if for no other reason
than he has had two seasons in head coach Norv Turner's offense.
"My approach in everything is for us to execute the
offense and big plays are going to come," Collins
said. "If I make good decisions and good throws big
plays are going to be there."
Collins has never been long on consistency throughout
his career, which began in 1995 with the Carolina Panthers. The Raiders, however, have surrounded
Collins with plenty of weapons by re-signing Jerry Porter, trading for Randy Moss and signing running
back Lamont Jordan to go along with fortifying the
offensive line in last season's draft with center Jake Grove and tackle Robert Gallery.
"Even though we've got as much talent as anyone, we
need to work hard and do the things day in and day out
that will give us a chance to be successful," Collins
said. "All of the pieces are there. It's just a matter
of us coming together but just because we have talent
doesn't mean it's going to happen. We need to come out
here and build chemistry."
With Turner coming aboard as the Raiders head coach
last season also meant that the team would tailor the
offense around the strong-armed Collins.
"The ball is coming out faster and he's seeing things
quicker," Turner said. "It helps that he had a full
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kerry Collins assumes leading role
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