Nash making his case


Posted Aug 5, 2003


“I had all of last year on the practice squad to learn from (free safety) Rod Woodson. I want to be in a position where if my number is called, I want to make plays.” -- Raider safety Keyon Nash

 

While much attention of the Oakland Raiders safety position is centered on the battle between Anthony Dorsett and Derrick Gibson, second-year man Keyon Nash continues to make an impression.

            Granted, the Dorsett-Gibson battle has a lot of intrigue because the latter was a first round draft choice in 2001 but his performance has not warranted such to this point, largely attributable to injuries. Nash will have to keep making a strong impression and faces a tough battle to make the team. Nash, however, has enjoyed enough flashes of brilliance in training camp that suggests earning a roster spot, with someone, is not a total pipe dream.

The Raiders drafted Nash in the sixth round of last year’s draft. Nash did not make the final cut but Oakland thought enough of his ability to bring him back to the practice squad. Oakland signed Nash to the active roster on January 15 but he did not play in the AFC Championship game or the Super Bowl.

            “I had all of last year on the practice squad to learn from (free safety) Rod Woodson,” Nash said. “I want to be in a position where if my number is called, I want to make plays.”

            Nash hopes to make a stronger case for a roster spot when the Raiders open their exhibition season Friday night at home against the St. Louis Rams.

            “I’m really pleased with how Nash has come along,” Oakland head coach Bill Callahan said. “Gibson is starting to make strides. He’s getting a little healthier. We’ve got good depth.”

            Last season, Nash faced the uphill climb that rookies normally encounter with adjusting from college to the NFL. In addition, the competition Nash faced while playing at Albany State (Ga.) is light years from what he currently meets.

            “This camp has been a lot easier,” Nash said. “I learned my plays with the veterans and I’m more instinctive.”

            The veteran Nash continues to mention is Woodson, who is a 17-year veteran that will assuredly be in Canton, Ohio someday. The 6-foot-3 Nash has the ability to be a hard hitter but Woodson helps him with the intricacies of the game.

            “That’s a big factor,” Nash said. “He’s always saying, ‘What you can do is this or that.’ I was kind of scared and he’s a 17-year vet. I can remember in minicamp, he told me to jump the slant. Being a young guy, I didn’t want to get beat deep but I jumped the slant and I was right there.”

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



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