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Johnnie Lee Higgins: Stupid, Dumb, and Hyphy

OAKLANDRAIDERCorrespondent IJune 9, 2009

One of my favorite players to watch on the Oakland Raiders is Johnnie Lee Higgins. When Johnnie Lee Higgins scores a touchdown he doesn't hand the ball to the ref and walk to the sidelines for some Gatorade. When Johnnie Lee scores, he's going to let the whole stadium know what time it is.

Johnnie Lee Higgins gets stupid, dumb, and hyphy.

At age 25, coming into his third full season, 2009 looks to be a big year for Higgins. Under the radar by many NFL experts, he has made a name for himself in Oakland.

Each season he has improved, from his rookie season in 2007 to 2008. You could see Higgins becoming better each game. The 2008 season was great for him. Higgins lead the NFL in these stats for Punt returns:

Touchdowns (3)
Punt return yards (570)
Runs over 20+ (7)
Runs over 40+ (3)
Longest punt return (93 yards)

Yet, with leading the NFL in punt return stats, Johnnie Lee Higgins was denied a chance to play in the Pro Bowl. I myself still wonder how he was left off the Pro Bowl roster. We're not just talking AFC, we're talking the best punt return man in the NFL for 2008.

To start the year in 2008, Higgins was behind Jevon Walker and Ronald Curry in the depth chart at WR.

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Before he was put into the starting role at WR, Higgins best moments were week three at Buffalo, when he had an 84 yard touchdown reception and week four against the San Diego Chargers, when he caught four passes for 35 yards.

From week six to week 13, Johnnie Lee Higgins didn't have much of a role in the Oakland Raiders' offense, only catching three passes for 51 yards in that eight game span.

It wasn't until week 14 until his role on offense increased, as Higgins and WR Chaz Schilens became full time starters for the sliver and black.

When Johnnie Lee Higgins has the ball, big plays are soon to happen. In the last four games of the season, Higgins caught 14 receptions for 196 yards and three touchdowns.

Higgins lead all WR's for the Raiders last season with 22 catches. It's really something to think about, knowing that Higgins didn't get much time on the field for the offense until the end of the season.

Now I understand these stats might not be eye popping, but on a football team everyone needs to play a role for the team to have success. In 2008, Johnny Lee Higgins took care of his business. If the Raiders had more players taking care of business like him, then more wins will come.

Which leads me to my next topic, in which I'll leave it to my fellow B/R Raiders members to answer.

What role will Johnnie Lee Higgins play in the 2009 Raiders' offense?

We all know how explosive Higgins can be in punt returns, but should he have a bigger role in the Raiders offense in 2009? Our WR's group has much improved on paper and after last season, the WR's can only get better, which is what us Raiders fans hope and expect.

If you look at the projected WR's for 2009 you will see, Chaz Schilens, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jevon Walker, Louis Murphy, and about seven other guys trying to compete for a roster spot.

To improve WR stats, you're going to need better offensive line protection, in which the Raiders addressed, a better running game, the Raiders hope Lorenzo Neal and Oren O'Neal will improve our rushing attack.

Better QB play from JaMarcus Russell, and last but not least, a coaching staff that knows how to call plays and can train their players for success.

All the signs are there for the Raiders offense to improve from last season, now its up to them to make it happen. Will Johnnie Lee Higgins have chances to play on offense? Will they use him in the slot?

I don't know what the Oakland Raiders are going to do this season on offense, but I know that if Higgins is matched up against any team's third or fourth CB, he will burn that guy one on one.

I would like to see Higgins have a bigger role on our offense this season for 2009. The ball needs to be in this guy's hands more often than last season. Having him sit on the bench and only return punts needs to stop.

I'm all for seeing the running game (Mcfadden, Fargas, Bush) being the number one focus on our team.

I'm all for seeing Heyward-Bey, Murphy, Schilens, and Zack Miller having great years and putting up decent numbers. There will be a lot of focus on these guys.

In between all those guys, Higgins needs to get more touches then he had last season. He is fast, and has a nack for getting into the endzone, something our offense needs. It doesn't matter if Higgins is in the slot or running end arounds, get him the ball.

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