Raiders sign Williams, Boschetti

The Raiders made a pair of minor moves Wednesday, re-signing linebacker Sam Williams and adding some depth at defensive tackle by signing free agent Ryan Boschetti. Does it mean much? Maybe more than you think.

First off, let's get this straight: Neither of the moves was earth shattering and won't shake up the NFL in any way, shape or form. They were so minor that the team didn't send out a press release announcing them; instead they were listed on the Raiders website.

But they are significant in that both players figure to help on special teams, which continues to look to be one of the Raiders strengths heading into the 2009 season.

Williams has been a decent player over the years but has stood out more on special teams than on defense. He's a favorite of owner Al Davis so you could see the move coming no matter what.

Williams started 12 games for the Raiders in 2006 but has only six starts since. Though he played in all 16 games last season, Williams has a history of injuries which is one reason he's been unable to play as well as the team hoped when they made him a third-round draft pick in 2003.

This is a move made strictly from a special teams standpoint. Ricky Brown will still head into training camp as the favorite for the strongside linebacker spot and Jon Alston will likely be the primary backup. That leaves Williams to help out on special teams, where he's actually proved to be a pretty decent player.

Boschetti is a veteran defensive lineman who spent his first five years in the NFL with Washington. While he only played in 22 games during that time, Boschetti's work ethic and drive made him a favorite of the Redskins coaching staff.

Signing Boschetti isn't a move that's going to immediately turn around a run defense that hasn't finished higher than 22nd against the run since 2002. If he makes it onto the 53-man roster, his minutes will almost certainly come in a backup role when Tommy Kelly, Gerard Warren and Terdell Sands need breathers.

Where Boschetti will help is in the example he sets. The ultimate grinder, he went undrafted out of college and was cut and signed and cut and signed numerous times by the ‘Skins but keeps coming. Teammates praised him for his never-quit attitude while Washington coaches raved about his work in practice either on defense or for the scout team.

Again, neither of them big moves but the roster continues to take shape. Oakland doesn't have much space under the salary cap so I doubt we'll see much more movement before the draft, though nothing is out of the question.


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