orig. published RNS. June 2nd, 2008 by Mykle Van Hausen www.raidernationstation.com
With the addition of CB DeAngelo Hall from the Atlanta Falcons via an offseason trade, some figure the role of the former University of Houston track star to be diminished in 2008.
That may not be entirely accurate.
Though franchised corner back Nnamdi Asomugha has yet to sign his tender or sign a long-term contract, most feel he will be on the field in Silver and Black at least through next year.
With two of the league's best corners, Aso and Hall, holding down the starting spots, Routt would seem relegated to nickelback duties or specialty defenses in '08. This may be true, but, with his vaunted teammates reputations preceding them, look for opponents to line up in more three-receiver sets to try and create more favorable matchups.
Easier said than done.
Drafted by the Raiders
after a blazing 40-yard time at the 2005 NFL
combine, the 6'1", 195-lb Routt was snatched up by Oakland
in the second round with the 38th selection overall.
Dismissed as a reach or a conversion project by those unaware of his football production in college, he was not only durable, he had potential. Routt played well for the Cougars, tallying 47 game appearances (starting 27 of them), racking up 136 tackles (111 solo), 23 deflections, seven interceptions, and a fumble recovery.
Now, within a few short years at the pro level, Routt has done a lot to prove to naysayers that he is much more than an award-winning track star.
He'll have more opportunities again in '08 as teams look to avoid his more well-know counterparts and try to pick on the lightning-fast Routt.
He may not be a household name to everyday fans, but that will likely change as next year goes on. It's my guesstimation Routt is poised to have an outstanding year, whether in reserve or filling as a starter.
This isn't simple fan appreciation or wishful thinking. By his actions on and off the field, Stanford has proven it. With the Raiders, Routt is part of a system predicated on solid play from its secondary. Probably more than any other NFL team, the Raiders rely on man-to-man coverage and the ability of their corners to get the job done, often with very little help.
Recently released DB Fabian Washington
lamented defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and the Raider reliance on the "Cover-O" defense that "...most teams use as a gimmick".
Washington didn't fair well last year in Oakland, losing his spot as soon as Routt recovered from a sore knee. The injury kept him out of preseason play and seemed to expose the undersized (at least for this system) 5'11", 185-lb Washington, who looked at times overwhelmed and outmatched by bigger receivers.
It's my belief that he'll go on to a decent career in Baltimore
, because he's not a bad corner, just not ideal for the unusual Raider scheme.
At 6'1", 185lbs, Routt does have the size, speed, and skills to not only compete, but excel, no matter the defense called.
He is not only a very good tackler in open space, he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, often snagging picks some have called "gimmes".
The fact remains, to those who would diminish the accomplishment, that Routt got himself in position to make those plays, and just because all of his picks weren't spectacular one-handed stabs while falling out of bounds, they still counted on the stat sheet, stopped opponents, and handed the ball back to the offense.
Routt's progression into a fine cover-corner was evident several times last year as he consistently helped change games and shutdown opponents.
Sept. 9, against Detroit, his interception set up a four-play Raider scoring drive. Against Miami on Sept. 30, he picked off Trent Green to halt a Dolphin scoring drive at the two-yard line. Another pick in October against division rival Kansas City, again halted a drive.
More than a back who can keep up with fast receivers, Routt's famous speed allows him to run down plays that break contain, and he is able to take advantage of some of the best make-up speed (like chasing down the play while the balls in flight) in the entire league.
Combined with his experience and last year's addition of DB coach Darren Perry, Routt's excellent skill-set may have gone unnoticed or been under-appreciated by many fans and teams, but if I'm right (and I am), that will change in '08.
Routt may be underrated by some, and that's just fine, as far as most Raider fans are concerned because teams who think he's the easier of the Raiders' corners to exploit will be in for a rude awakening.
His teammate the last few years, Nnamdi Asomugha, had his breakout year in '06, but look for 2008 to be Routt's.
In limited action, he has proven himself time and again as an excellent athlete with skills and a knack for game-changing plays.
That will become more and more evident as next season goes on. Then, they'll be no more hiding from the league what some in Oakland wish would remain quiet, but the fact is, for those in the know, the secret is already Routt.
* UPDATE: Since writing this article I have had the opportunity to speak with Stan several times. He is an amazingly kind and focused man, dedicated to playing his best for the Oakland Raiders and its fans.
And he's pretty funny too!~