Porter a pivotal man in offensive success

"Jerry Rice has a history of killing people in the Super Bowl. At the same time, I'm kind of on a roll. Pick your poison and don't forget we've got Tim Brown too." -- Oakland wide receiver Jerry Porter

 

Like he has throughout the postseason, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter could loom large in Sunday's Super Bowl matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

            Very few, if any, teams have enough cornerbacks to constantly keep up with Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and then throw in Porter. The third-year wide receiver will see his former coach and adversary, Jon Gruden, on the Bucs sideline.

            The Raiders selected Porter in the second round of the 2000 draft. Oakland knew Porter would be a project since he played safety, quarterback and wide receiver at West Virginia. Gruden, however, saw a player with stunning talent. At times, Porter and Gruden clashed because he felt Porter lacked the work ethic.

Porter caught just 20 passes his first two seasons. Porter, however, enjoyed a breakout season in 2002 with 51 catches and nine touchdowns. Porter, however, downplays wanting to stick it to his former coach.

"If Jon Gruden was strapping up the pads and lacing up the cleats then it would be more personal," Porter said. "He doesn't have to take a single snap."

            Porter has come up big in both playoff wins for Oakland. Porter has combined for 10 catches for 175 yards and two scores in those games.

            "The opportunity presented itself," Porter said. "I got matched up against some lesser DBs and got the chance to work."

            The Raiders need Porter to come up with a few big plays to beat Tampa Bay. If Porter can get loose vertically, Brown, Rice, Charlie Garner and Doug Jolley figure to have space underneath.

"Jerry Rice has a history of killing people in the Super Bowl," Porter said. "At the same time, I'm kind of on a roll. Pick your poison and don't forget we've got Tim Brown too."

Then, the Bucs might have to move cornerback Brian Kelly inside or add another defender in the deep zones.

"Jerry Porter obviously adds an additional dimension," Tampa Bay strong safety John Lynch said. "Yet when you really look at it, it's just another one of the many challenges you have when facing that offense. What the Raiders do is present so many different weapons it's tough to really focus on any of them. You have Porter, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Charlie Garner. You have Doug Jolley emerging. So where do you start? You just have to trust that you have the right game plan going at them."

            Bucs cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Kelly are likely to try to play physical man-to-man coverage to take Brown and Rice out of their routes.

That's where Oakland's "other Jerry" enters the equation.

 

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


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