Quick Links

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.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Here are five observations from Day 1 of Ravens’ training camp:

1. Joe Flacco didn’t look like someone who had not practiced since November.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with Flacco’s arm. Early in drills, he effortlessly floated a long pass to rookie Chris Moore on a ball that traveled at least 55 yards in the air. Secondly, Flacco moved well wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee, moving out of the pocket several times without any sign of favoring the injury. It remains to be seen if Flacco feels discomfort after several days of practice, and of course, he is not taking any hits. But this was a good first step.

“It felt really good to be out there,” Flacco said in quotes provided by the team. “I wasn’t as efficient as I’d like to be, but I felt comfortable. I just need to throw it a little better and complete some more passes.”

2. Veteran tight end Ben Watson didn’t have the greatest practice.

The usually sure-handed Watson dropped two passes early. Maybe Watson was nervous in his first practice with Flacco, or maybe he was adjusting to the pace of Flacco’s throws. But Watson will be looking to bounce back quickly, competing for playing time at tight end with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, and Maxx Williams.

3. The starter at inside linebacker could be rookie Kamalei Correa.

While Correa is taking reps both outside and inside, the Ravens are searching for a starter at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley. If Correa wins the starting job, it means the Ravens’ top two picks, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Correa, could be starters from Week 1.

4. Pitta looks like Pitta, running patterns and making catches.

Fans still love Pitta, and he received a huge ovation whenever he made a catch. Pitta’s attempt to come back from his second major hip injury is a feel-good story and people are rooting for him.  However, a major test for Pitta will come Saturday when the Ravens put on pads for the first time.

5. John Urschel could be the starter at left guard, but he is also taking reps at center.

Urschel is the favorite to replace Kelechi Osemele as the starting left guard. However, Urschel’s best position may be center. If anything happens to starting center Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens could shift Urschel to center and play either Ryan Jensen or rookie Alex Lewis at left guard.

RELATED: STANLEY'S ROOKIE SHOW PERFORMANCE WAS ONE FOR THE AGES

Quick Links

Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

OWINGS MILLS - When the Ravens drafted left tackle Ronnie Stanley, he never expected to sing in front of teammates wearing a chicken suit.

Welcome to the Ravens, and to the traditional rookie talent contest. Stanley led off this year’s draft class as the first-round pick, and apparently, he was a hit. The chicken suit was courtesy of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who purchased it for Stanley.

Where exactly do you find a chicken suit that fits somebody 6-foot-6, 320 pounds? But Smith found one. If you are a smart rookie, you don’t say no to Steve Smith. That left Stanley with no choice but to perform wearing the suit.

Stanley chose the R. Kelly song “Ignition Remix” for his selection.

“I knew it was crowd pleaser,” Stanley said after Thursday’s practice. “I know every word to the song. That was the song I picked, so I was practicing all throughout this break that we had.”

Under the circumstances, Stanley felt he did well.

 “I actually didn’t know about the chicken suit until yesterday,” Stanley said. “I did what I had to do. I knew since I was going first, I had to set the tone. That was the first time I sang in a chicken suit.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed.

“He did a great job and we had fun,” Harbaugh said. “It’s nice when your first-round pick, kind of the leader of the rookie class, is able to step up and make a statement about that. I can fit in, so to speak.”

No word on if Stanley plans to go on tour after the season.

RELATED: A FEW RAVENS RUNNING BACKS ARE DINGED UP

Quick Links

Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

Kenneth Dixon hobbled, Lorenzo Taliaferro placed on PUP list

OWINGS MILLS -- The Ravens deep running back group grew a little thinner – at least temporarily – on Thursday as rookie Kenneth Dixon left the first training camp practice after tweaking his left knee and Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on the preseason physically-unable-to-perform list with a lingering foot injury.

Dixon had been very active in the noncontact practice, especially as a pass catcher. But as he caught one pass near the left sideline in an 11-on-11 drill, he was inadvertently bumped out of bounds by linebacker Patrick Onwauasor and fell hard to the ground. Dixon was slow to get up and was ultimately helped off the field by Justin Forsett and a trainer.

Dixon has “a slight thing with the knee,” coach John Harbaugh said after practice. “He should be fine.”

Taliaferro sustained a foot injury last year and had surgery that ultimately ended his season in October.

"Not that there's a big issue with it," Harbaugh said of Taliaferro's foot, "but it's not quite there yet."

Entering his third season, Taliaferro is fighting for a roster spot after missing 16 of 32 games over his first two seasons. Forsett, Buck Allen and Dixon all appear to be locks to make the team, leaving Taliaferro competing for a potential fourth running spot with Terrance West and perhaps Trent Richardson, though he, too, is injured.

Taliaferro joins five other Ravens who had previously been placed on the preseason PUP list – receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman, linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, and Richardson.

Players can be activated from the PUP list and return to practice at any time during training camp. If they begin the regular season on the PUP list, they must sit out the first six games.

In addition to Taliaferro’s absence, three players sat out Thursday's practice because they haven’t passed the conditioning test: wide receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Jerraud Powers and newly signed wide receiver Dobson Collins.

RELATED: FLACCO ISN'T WORRIED ABOUT INJURIES AFFECTING HIS POST NFL LIFE