Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Personnel, Etc.

Raiders right tackle Robert Gallery has the long hair and charismatic presence of a rock star, the bank account of a millionaire and an old-school work ethic borne of his roots as an Iowa farm boy.

What he doesn't have, in the eyes of some critics, is the ability to dominate befitting the No. 2 pick of the 2004 NFL draft.

He has his moments.

There are times when Gallery forms a wall that takes an outside pass rusher well out of the play, rendering him harmless. He occasionally buries his foe on a running play or moves someone effortlessly simply by getting leverage with his 6-foot-7, 320-pound body.

After an extremely promising rookie season, Gallery has not made the quantum leap some had hoped. He pancaked everything in sight as a senior at Iowa, but has discovered being a pro is a more difficult proposition.

"You can't get comfortable, that's for sure," Gallery said. "There's always something new. You can be on a high one week and the next week things don't go as well. That's football. That's the way this league is. Week to week, everything is different.

"Everything is important. Hands, feet, everything. You can't overset a guy. You can't underset a guy. You're on an island and you learn. Some weeks, it's easy. Some weeks, the (other) guy has got a few tricks too."

The Raiders, who guaranteed Gallery $18 million after he was the second pick in 2004 behind Eli Manning, say publicly they are thrilled with the way he has developed.

Coming out of the draft, Gallery was considered either on par with or slightly below the talent level of players such as Orlando Pace, Tony Boselli and Jonathan Ogden.

Raiders offensive line coach Jim Colletto, who was line coach in Baltimore when Ogden was there, said in training camp the two were comparable. Colletto liked Gallery's habit of constantly quizzing him on how Ogden went about his business.

Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins thinks people should remember Gallery is only in his second season.

"He's going to be a great player in this league for a long time," Collins said. "Shoot, this thing isn't easy. He's playing against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL, and sometimes they're going to win. I know I feel very comfortable with him out there."

Coach Norv Turner agreed.

"When I first started in the league, it was very rare that you played a lineman in the first two or three years," Turner said. "It took a long time to get going. So I think Robert's done a lot of good things."

Gallery, who tends to be his own worst critic, gives himself mixed reviews.

"There have been ups and downs," Gallery said. "I think overall I've done things a lot better than last year, but there are things I'm learning, too. I wouldn't say I'm playing like I wan to, but I'm learning to deal with the fact that everybody's good and it's not going to be perfect every time."

Gallery looks at film of himself as a rookie and sees great improvements in his technique but more errors than he is comfortable with.

"Now it's just minimizing the negative plays, where I don't do my job and do it well," Gallery said. "Some you can get over and there are other ones that are hard to take."

Some of the whispers about Gallery being a disappointment have to do with his inability to seize the job at left tackle. He was drafted as a left tackle and paid as a left tackle. But seven-year veteran Barry Sims, a solid pro who was undrafted out of Utah, has stood his ground.

Gallery eventually will move to the left side, but there is no guarantee it will be next season or the year after that.

"I'm not too worried about it," Gallery said. "I'm playing the position they have me in. I'm worried about this season and how I play wherever I'm at." SERIES HISTORY: 27th meeting. Raiders lead 15-10-1. Last played in 2002, with Miami winning 23-17 for its fifth straight win in the series. Raiders last won a regular-season game against Miami 17-7 in 1996. Oakland beat the Dolphins 27-0 in a playoff game in Oakland on Jan. 6, 2001.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Defensive tackle Warren Sapp was listed as doubtful with a shoulder injury and did not practice Wednesday. This comes after coach Norv Turner had said Monday he expected Sapp to practice and play.

"He didn't think much of it after the game, and on Monday he didn't think much of it, but it just hasn't settled down," Turner said.

Sapp underwent an MRI but the Raiders either did not have or would not divulge the results.

--Defensive end Derrick Burgess, who played for the Eagles for four seasons before signing with the Raiders, has watched the Terrell Owens soap opera with interest and felt bad his former teammate won't be playing again this season.

"I kind of feel for the guy just because basically this is his livelihood, man," Burgess said. "I never wanted to see injury or any way other taken away from anybody."

Burgess said he considered Owens a good teammate.

"I don't know what happened when I left, but when I was there, as a football player all you can ask of your teammates is to come to practice, bust their butt and get in the game and then show up," Burgess said. "He did that. That's all I needed from him."

As for rumors Owens could end up in silver in black, Burgess has his doubts.

"You've got to think, man, there ain't enough balls to go around," Burgess said. "Randy and Jerry (Porter) and all our other receivers and then T.O.? Nah, that wouldn't work too good."

--Miami offensive line coach Hudson Houck is the godfather to two of Norv Turner's children.

"I haven't talked to him in a couple of months, but we're still very close," Turner said.

--Miami is the only team in the Al Davis era (since 1965) outside of the AFC West to hold a five-game regular-season win streak against the Raiders. The Kansas City Chiefs have a seven-game streak (1993-96), a current six-game streak and two five-game streaks (1990-92 and 1997-95). The Denver Broncos had a seven game-streak (1997-2000) against the Raiders.

--The Raiders have not scored more than 17 points in a game against Miami since 1986, a span of 11 games, when the Los Angeles Raiders beat the Dolphins 30-28.

--Oakland dealt Miami its first postseason shutout loss in playoff history with a 27-0 win on Jan 6, 2001, with Tory James igniting the blowout win with a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown 3:34 into the first quarter.

--With 100 penalties for 814 yards, the Raiders have a chance to set NFL records in both categories. At its present pace, Oakland would finish with 160 penalties, two more than the Kansas City Chiefs' record from 1998. Their projected total of 1,302 yards falls 2 yards short of the Chiefs' record set in 1998.

--The Raiders-Dolphins matchup pits one of the most heavily penalized teams in league history against one of the least penalized teams. The Raiders have led the league in penalties 14 times, trailing the Chicago Bears (16). However the Bears led the league in penalties 12 times from 1941 through 1961 - before the Raiders were conceived in 1962.

Miami has been the least penalized team in the NFL 13 times, although not since 1991. The 2005 Dolphins are among the leaders in penalties (88) and yards penalized (693).

BY THE NUMBERS: 80 - The amount of incomplete passes Kerry Collins has thrown in the direction of Jerry Porter and Randy Moss - nearly half of his total of 167.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know how to explain it other than I'd rather play well in the fourth quarter than the first quarter," Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins explaining his 9-for-12, 128-yard fourth quarter against the Redskins.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Remember when the Raiders were a 3-4 team?

Oakland stuck to the company line that they were going to be a mix of 4-3 and 3-4 all through training camp, even as practices and preseason games showed they were loading up with defensive linemen in a three-point stance.

With the return of defensive end Bobby Hamilton last week against Washington, the Raiders have three stout defensive ends - with Hamilton joining Burgess and Tommy Kelly.

With Warren Sapp, Ted Washington and Ed Jasper rotating in the middle, the Raiders can be as dominant up front as they've been in the decade since they returned to Oakland.

The ability to beat blocks, slow the run and pressure the quarterback has enabled the Raiders to bring along rookie cornerback Fabian Washington, third-year starter Nnamdi Asomugha, second-year free safety Stuart Schweigert, rookie linebacker Kirk Morrison and survive with career-special teams player Jarrod Cooper playing at strong safety.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--FB Zack Crockett, one of the NFL's best short-yardage runners over the past four seasons, did not have a carry against Washington even though the Raiders had six snaps from the 2- or 1-yard-line and also had a third-and-1.

--RB LaMont Jordan has 195 carries, good for 82.3 percent of Oakland's season total. RB Amos Zereoue, who led the Raiders in rushing last season, had 34.2 percent of the carries (112 of 327).

--SS Jarrod Cooper was named the winner of the Raiders' Ed Block Courage Award after coming back from a serious knee injury in the off-season and rising to a prominent defensive role in addition to his duties on special teams.

--WR Doug Gabriel, who underwent tests after injuring an ankle against Washington, is healthy enough that he wasn't listed on the injury report this week.

--DL Tommy Kelly, who has played primarily at end this season but who has the ability to move inside, could get additional snaps at tackle this week with Warren Sapp hurting and possibly out with a shoulder injury.

GAME PLAN: With Miami having placed Junior Seau on injured reserve and missing leading tackler Zach Thomas, the Raiders will look to pound LaMont Jordan inside - hopefully with more payoff in terms of yardage than they got against Washington (27 carries, 52 yards).

Running between the tackles and occasionally right at ends Kevin Carter and Jason Taylor will also slow a Miami pass rush that has historically given the Raiders problems.

On defense, cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha can expect help over the top on Chris Chambers, depending on which side he lines up, and Oakland will sell out to stop Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams from doing much damage on the ground.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

--Raiders LT Barry Sims vs. Dolphins DE Jason Taylor. It was Taylor who provided the blueprint on how to disrupt the Raiders in 2002, beating Sims badly and sacking QB Rich Gannon three times in a 23-17 Dolphins win. Tampa Bay's Simeon Rice duplicated that effort in the Super Bowl. Sims has not had such a conspicuously poor game since and is coming off a solid game against Washington.

--Dolphins WR Chris Chambers vs. Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Chambers is Miami's only real outside threat with 39 receptions and five touchdowns. He has the ability to go deep, but corners have played soft to keep him in check. It's worked, as Chambers is averaging 12.8 yards per catch. Asomugha handled several deep passes with excellent coverage against Washington and rarely gets beat deep.

INJURY IMPACT

If Warren Sapp is unable to play, then Ed Jasper should get additional snaps, Tommy Kelly could get some snaps inside and Terdell Sands would be active for the third consecutive week at defensive tackle.

While Sapp's absence would not hurt the Raiders in their most important task - slowing the Miami running game - his explosiveness as a pass rusher would be missed.

Only Jasper has anything approaching Sapp's instinct and quickness off the ball.

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