Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders Add a Linebacker Without Signing a New Body

Gil BecerraCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2009

With voluntary OTAs out of the way, it's dead time in the NFL. Besides the NFL Rookie Symposium (and, of course, Terrell Suggs and Julius Peppers working on extensions), there isn't much news.

A story came along today that Al Davis and Tom Cable made a phone call to a current player. They called undrafted rookie free-agent, Chris O'Neill, to let him know they had a "wild" idea.

What was this idea? Switch O'Neill over to middle linebacker.

Al and Tom came up with the idea after liking how he looked while running his routes and his special teams coverage.

Keep in mind, O'Neill has never played linebacker ever. He wasn't even considered a "part-time" defensive player in HS while at Miramonte High School in Orinda, Ca. He would occasionally put his hand in the ground for a pass-rush from the end, but not too often.

Boise State is where he landed after being a stand-out tight end in Northern California. He red-shirted in 2004, and was a back-up the next two years before he finally had a chance to play in 2007.

According to what the Raiders told O'Neill, they're only planning on keeping two tight ends and nine linebackers on the roster. Currently, the Raiders have five tight ends and 11 linebackers battling for the positions.

They must really like him, since most guys that are on the edge of not making a team wouldn't get a chance to transition.

This would make sense—if he can stay on as a linebacker, he would be able to play tight end if something were to come up during the year. He originally bulked up this off-season to 260lbs and has been asked to go back down to 250lbs.

This is a wild idea. I wonder how it will pan out. Rookies report to training camp one week earlier then the veterans, on July 20.


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