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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Secretary of Navy weighs in on Reynolds' service, availability for Ravens

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Secretary of Navy weighs in on Reynolds' service, availability for Ravens

The Secretary of the Navy expressed confidence Thursday that sixth-round draft pick Keenan Reynolds will be able to play for the Ravens next season. Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Ray Mabus said there should be ways for Reynolds to fulfill his Navy obligations while pursuing his NFL career.

“If I was an NFL team I would want Keenan Reynolds in my locker room,” Mabus said on the show. “Keenan Reynolds is a great ambassador for not only the United States Navy but the United States military. I’m confident we can work something out so Keenan can do both, play and serve…I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he can do both.”

The Ravens were hopeful that Reynolds would be allowed to play, but said they would abide by whatever decision made by the Navy. Reynolds was a star quarterback at Navy, but will try to forge an NFL career as a wide receiver-punt returner. Reynolds is scheduled to participate in this weekend’s Ravens rookie minicamp.

A precedent for Reynolds being allowed to play has already been set. The Patriots drafted long snapper Joe Cardona in the fifth round last season, and he played all of last season while also working at a Naval Preparatory Academy in Rhode Island.

Reynolds could be a busy man as well next season, juggling Navy responsibilities with football. However, Reynolds has long dreamed of playing in the NFL, and Mabus’ comments were a positive sign.

Three things to know about Ravens fourth-round pick Alex Lewis

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Three things to know about Ravens fourth-round pick Alex Lewis

Here are three things you should know about Ravens fourth-round pick (130), offensive tackle Alex Lewis.

1. Lewis overcame a bad off-the-field incident in college.

After an altercation with an Air Force cadet that left the cadet unconscious, Lewis was sentenced to 45 days in jail for third-degree assault. Afterward, he transferred from Colorado to Nebraska. After researching Lewis thoroughly, the Ravens felt comfortable enough to take a chance on him.

“In terms of the incident, we vet all of our guys,” said Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz. “It’s out there, people know about it, and we’ve discussed it. Our scouts do a great job of not only talking to the coaches there, but following up with the staff at Colorado as well. And we felt very comfortable after discussing with the staffs at both schools and finding out information from different reports, and then as well as talking to the kid about the incident.”

2. Lewis will compete for a backup tackle spot.

Whether the Ravens keep Eugene Monroe or not, Lewis has a chance to be the backup left tackle if he can beat out James Hurst. Lewis could also become the backup right tackle behind Rick Wagner.

3. Lewis was selected a team captain at Nebraska.

That speaks highly of what teammates and coaches thought of him, and how he rebounded from his past troubles.

Alex Lewis was at grocery store when Ravens tried to draft him

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Alex Lewis was at grocery store when Ravens tried to draft him

Ravens offensive tackle Alex Lewis was tough to reach when the Ravens drafted him.

Lewis was at the grocery store when the Ravens called. That became a problem. The cell phone signal was bad between Lewis and general manager Ozzie Newsome, and Newsome didn’t have much time, with another pick to make soon.

Newsome finally gave up trying to speak to Lewis, and told coach John Harbaugh to call Lewis’ house.

“So I get on the phone with his mom, and I’m going, ‘Is Alex there?’", Harbaugh told reporters when the draft ended.

“And she goes, ‘No, he’s not. May I ask who is calling?’ I’m like, ‘It’s John Harbaugh, with the Ravens.’ She goes, ‘Oh, well how I can I help you?’ I said, ‘Well, we were hoping that Alex would become a Baltimore Raven, and we’re thinking about drafting him. Is he there right now?’ (She said), ‘No, he just stepped out and he went to the store, but he’ll be back in a little while.’ I’m just going, ‘He’s at the store! What do we do now?’ She goes, ‘Now who is this team again?’

Lewis returned from his grocery run a short time later, spoke to Harbaugh, and all was well. It made for a draft experience the Ravens and Lewis won’t soon forget.