Raiders hope Titans' end doesn't 'Freak' out

"We've got a lot of respect for Jevon Kearse. It's kind of limited them as far as where they can feature their pass rush but he can really change a game. It's important for us to maintain our protection." -- Oakland head coach Bill Callahan

 

Very few clubs have slowed the Oakland Raiders with their pass rush and the Tennessee Titans may not be one that does with defensive end Jevon Kearse's foot injury.

            Kearse, known as "The Freak," is listed as questionable but chances are he will play in Sunday's AFC Title Game at Oakland. At least, the Raiders are thinking of it on those terms. The 6-foot-4, 265 pounder Kearse has been limited to four games this season.

Defensive end Kevin Carter led the Titans with 10 sacks but they would love to have Kearse Sunday. Kearse played in Tennessee's 34-31 overtime win over Pittsburgh in the AFC Divisional playoffs and registered two tackles.

            "He's a high energy guy," Raiders' center Barret Robbins said of Kearse. "We've got to let (Oakland right tackle) Lincoln (Kennedy) take care of that guy."

            The key to giving quarterback Rich Gannon protection, however, might be Robbins along with guards Frank Middleton and Mo Collins in providing protection and passing lanes. They can't allow a push or penetration up the middle in order to provide him with the comfort he needs.

Their protection will also make it easier on Kennedy and left tackle Barry Sims who can let the Titans' defensive ends run around the corner because Gannon can step up in the pocket.

"We've just got to control the line of scrimmage," Raiders running back Charlie Garner said. "That's where the game is won or lost."

The play of the Tennessee defensive line, however, tends to elevate with Kearse in the lineup because he's a presence opponents must honor even if he is not at full strength.

"We've got a lot of respect for Jevon Kearse," Oakland head coach Bill Callahan said. "It's kind of limited them as far as where they can feature their pass rush but he can really change a game. It's important for us to maintain our protection."

Added Middleton: "He's fast. We expect to get his best game. You've got to watch him on film because he does a lot of off the wall things."

 

Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at vdad7@yahoo.com


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