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Raiders hire Greg Olson as offensive coordinator

Raiders hire Greg Olson as offensive coordinator

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders chose a coordinator to get their offense back to a power-running scheme suited to star back Darren McFadden.

The Raiders hired former Jacksonville quarterbacks coach Greg Olson as their new offensive coordinator on Saturday to revive a unit that had its worst production on the ground since 2005.

Coach Dennis Allen interviewed a number of candidates, including Norv Turner and Marc Trestman, before settling on Olson to replace the fired Greg Knapp. The shift in philosophies from last season's offense is a clear acknowledgment that McFadden was not suited to a zone running scheme.

Oakland also hired former Philadelphia assistant Bobby April as special teams coordinator. Allen still needs to fill openings for an offensive line coach and linebackers coach.

Olson previously served as offensive coordinator with Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay. In Olson's two years with the Rams, running back Stephen Jackson rushed for at least 1,000 yards in 2006 and `07, including a career high of 1,528 his first season.

Olson also helped LeGarrette Blount get a 1,000-yard season in Tampa Bay and played a key role in the development of Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman. Freeman threw 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions and posted a career-best 95.9 rating in 2010 with Olson calling plays.

Olson has 26 years of coaching experience, including 15 in college and 11 in the NFL. Along with Freeman, he has also worked with quarterbacks such as Marc Bulger (St. Louis), Jeff Garcia (San Francisco) and Drew Brees (Purdue).

But his biggest task in Oakland will be reviving the career of McFadden. A first-round pick in 2008, McFadden struggled early in his career with injuries and the zone scheme.

That all changed when Hue Jackson was hired as offensive coordinator in 2010 and implemented a power system better suited to McFadden's skills. In two seasons with Jackson calling plays, McFadden averaged 5.3 yards per carry and broke one of every 15 runs for at least 20 yards.

Last season, he averaged 3.3 yards per carry - the lowest ever for a Raiders back with at least 150 carries in a season - and the Raiders stumbled to a 4-12 record. He also had only four runs of at least 20 yards in 216 carries.

``I'm not an offensive guru, but I do know when Darren is running certain plays, it's pretty doggone good, and he had some last year,'' general manager Reggie McKenzie said Thursday. ``But when you talk about a scheme, he's not a lateral mover. He's not one of those guys. As soon as he can go north and south, that's when he's at his best.''

April has spent 21 seasons as a special teams assistant in the NFL, including a very successful six-year run in Buffalo. April spent the past three seasons with the Eagles and has also worked with St. Louis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

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Rare spinal conditon forced Zach Orr to retire

Rare spinal conditon forced Zach Orr to retire

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens inside linebacker Zach Orr had no choice but to retire, after a physical examination detected a spinal condition that made it extremely dangerous for him to continue his career.

“I have a condition that I was born with,” Orr said Friday, making his formal retirement announcement during a press conference. “I’m forced to walk away from the game of football.”

Orr said a CAT scan revealed a rare congenital abnormality, and that the top of his spinal column had never fully developed. Orr was never aware of his issue until he suffered a shoulder injury against the Steelers on Christmas that led to further testing.

While Orr never imagined he would retire at age 24, he felt blessed to be leaving the game before his condition led to a catastrophic injury. Orr has been playing football with his spinal condition since he was nine years old, and said doctors could not explain how he had played so long without his issue being detected.

“When I first found out the news, it was shocking,” Orr said. “Football is something I’ve done my whole life.”

Orr said retirement was his only option, because he would never pass an NFL physical. He also said that reports the Ravens tried to talk him out of retirement were inaccurate.

“They’ve supported me through this,” said Orr, who added that one of his high school teammates was paralyzed playing football.

Orr kept his composure during the press conference, but admitted he took the news hard at first. One of those emotional moments came after a telephone conversation with recently retired wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.

“I broke down a couple of times, as recent as a couple of days ago,” Orr said.

Three of Orr’s teammates attended Friday’s press conference – linebackers C. J. Mosley and Albert McClellan, and safety Eric Weddle. General manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, defensive coordinator Dean Pees, and linebackers coach Don Martindale were also in attendance. Orr is one of the most popular and respected players in the locker room. An undrafted free agent in 2014, Orr made the team as a special teams standout and earned a starting job for the first time this season. He led the Ravens in tackles (130), finishing 10th in the NFL in that department.

Orr had a bright future as a player. Now, that future will head in another direction.

“Instead of asking – ‘Why me?, ask ‘What’s next?’” Orr said.

“I’m very proud that he’s been a Raven,” said Harbaugh. “I can’t wait to see what the next door holds.”

Related: Ravens name their new offensive line coach

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Ravens linebacker Zach Orr to retire due to shoulder injury

Ravens linebacker Zach Orr to retire due to shoulder injury

Ravens starting inside linebacker Zach Orr has decided to retire due to a serious shoulder injury, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Only 24 years old, Orr led the Ravens in tackles last season after winning a starting job for the first time, and his career was trending upward. Losing Orr, an undrafted free agent from North Texas, leaves the Ravens with another void to fill after a disappointing 8-8 season.

The Ravens scheduled an 11 a.m. press conference Friday in which further details on Orr’s retirement were expected.

Orr played in all but one game last season, but sat out the season finale with what was termed a neck injury. He is one of the team’s most popular players in the locker room, working his way from undrafted free agent, to special teams standout, to starter.

Related: Steve Smith addresses coaching rumors