Oakland safeties finally making big plays on defense

By Anthony Carroll  |   Friday, October 07, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

Oakland Raiders
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Stuart Schweigert and Derrick Gibson: Two names that are certainly far from eye-catching at first glance. Yet looking beyond their names and primarily at the performance of these two Oakland Raiders safeties, it is very easy to understand why both of these young players won over starting jobs in the 2005 offseason.

Prior to the 2004 NFL Draft, free safety Stuart Schweigert was asked, "What three words best describe you?" Schweigert responded, "Charismatic, very hard worker and determined." That day, Schweigert was selected by the Oakland Raiders with 67th pick of the 2004 draft. This selection was far from a reach, as Schweigert was the recipient of numerous accolades at Purdue. In each of his last three seasons, Schweigert was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe award and was repeatedly recognized as one of the finest safeties in college football by respected sources such as The Sporting News and Associated Press. Schweigert's 17 pass interceptions also surpassed Purdue's previous record of 11 interceptions held by greats Don Anderson and Rod Woodson.

Already this season, Schweigert has proved how much of an asset he is on the playing field. He has already been a part of two of the biggest defensive plays Oakland has had this year. In their home opener against Kansas City, Schweigert recovered a fumble with just 5:03 left in the fourth quarter trailing by just six points. In the subsequent week at Philadelphia, Schweigert forced a fumble on the Oakland five-yard line, saving a touchdown in a game that they were already trailing by seven points. Unfortunately, Oakland was unable to turn either of these big plays into victories.

Alongside Stuart Schweigert, in his fifth year at strong safety, is Derrick Gibson. Drafted in the first round out of FSU in 2001, Gibson, like Schweigert, was placed into a starting roll in his second year in the NFL. In his first two years as a starter, Gibson was often criticized for his inability to generate big plays. Making matters worse, Gibson was sidelined for the entire season last year with a severe shoulder injury. In his return, Gibson seized his job back from journeyman Marques Anderson and has yet to look back. In Oakland's first victory of the season against the Dallas Cowboys last week, Gibson led the Oakland defense with eight tackles-six of which were solo. He also was on the delivering end of what was perhaps the biggest defensive play of the game-a fourth quarter drive-ending sack on quarterback Drew Bledsoe for a loss of 14 yards. Oakland went on to win the game 19-13.

Look for these two young "no-name" Oakland Raiders safeties to make a name for themselves this season. Through four games, they have already stepped up their play immensely, helping their youthful secondary to find a consistency that has been lacking since the days of cornerback Eric Allen.
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About Anthony Carroll

Anthony Carroll began writing for RealFootball365.com on Sept. 26, 2005, making him one of the longest tenured contributors to the “365” team. As a senior writer, Anthony has taken on the task of delivering original content to the silver and black faithful year round, despite having to deal...
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