Lofton visits, potential role a mystery

James Lofton met with embattled Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin on Monday and Al Saunders appears to be next in line to visit the team's headquarters in Alameda, as Oakland's incredibly strange offseason continues to take on new and interesting turns.

Lofton, who was recently fired as the wide receivers coach in San Diego, was in town auspiciously to interview for an assistant's job, though just what position is available is unclear since the team still has all of its staff from 2007 under contract and working.

Lofton met with both Kiffin and current offensive coordinator Greg Knapp after Oakland's coaching staff returned from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. According to a team spokesman, the meeting with Lofton "went excellent" and the two sides plan to continue to talk about a possible job for the Hall of Fame wide receiver.

Lofton did not stay in town long. Shortly after his interview with Kiffin and Knapp, Lofton was back on an airplane headed for home.

"There's going to be further discussions," said Raiders senior executive John Herrera. "They think he's an outstanding guy. He's been a Raider player here, a Hall of Fame guy … and a lot of people like him."

Saunders was also recently fired, getting the axe in Washington last week after serving as the Redskins' offensive coordinator.

Both Lofton and Saunders were previous candidates when the Raiders had head coaching vacancies, with Lofton interviewing with owner Al Davis last year before Davis eventually hired Kiffin.

With Kiffin and Davis locked in a battle that is apparently less about football and more about ego, the decisions to bring in Lofton and possibly Saunders for interviews has opened speculation that the team is moving forward in its plans to replace Kiffin.

While the decision to meet with Lofton remains a mystery because there is no clear opening on the current coaching staff, the call on Saunders, if it's true, would be even more puzzling.

His only job with the team would be as the offensive coordinator and primary play-caller or the head coach, roles currently filled by Knapp and Kiffin, both of whom -- like all of the Raiders' coaching staff -- are still under contract.

Meanwhile, the calls for Davis to step down as team owner continue to mount. Fans and media alike continue to criticize the Raiders' owner for the dispute with Kiffin and the alleged letter he had sent to Kiffin's representatives requesting the 32-year-old head coach to resign.

One Bay Area columnist wrote that Davis' actions are "loony" while another opined that the NFL needs to step in to save the Raiders from total self-destruction.


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