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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Monte Poole On Oakland Raiders WR Jerry Porter

Oakland Tribune Columnist Monte Poole presents an excellent and revealing column that presents a different side of the Raiders WR. Don't forget to catch "The Monte Poole Show" September 8th.

NAPA -- Jerry Porter gazes at his image in the darkened window and recoils. He is displeased, because there is too much darkness and too little contrast to allow full appreciation.

And if there is anything J.P. wants, it is to be fully appreciated.

So he makes the adjustment. He steps back until he's in full sunlight.

Porter nods, poses with his hands on his hips, glances down upon the brightest, blingiest, sickest belt ever imagined — gold dollar signs linked together, accented with a massive rash of gleaming studs at the center -- and admires not only the shiny accessory but also the way it hangs on his new physique.

A physique that arrived in camp 23 pounds lighter than it was last year, down to 220, apparently cut from the same stone and by the same sculptor who chiseled Terrell Owens.

Porter's fitness stands as visible evidence he has no plans to let his discontent affect his dedication to the Raiders.

"I'm here to do my job," the seventh-year wide receiver said Tuesday as he stood in thefrom Sports 1
midday heat after team's first training-camp practice.

He addressed the topic because he is the Raider most often described as disgruntled, floating in a sea of rumors that he wanted out, that his attendance in the team's off-season program was at an all-time low and that there was friction with his new head coach, Art Shell.

Truth or fiction?

"It's not BS," Porter acknowledged. "But I'm under contract for two more years, so they have me for two more years."

Which sets the stage for Porter to join the long and distinguished list of Raiders who have encountered frustration with the organization. Remember Marcus Allen? Howie Long knows the feeling. Tim Brown had his moments. Chester McGlockton was consumed by it. Steve Beuerlein's differences became irreconcilable, leading to a bitter parting.

Porter's conditioning implies that any hints of animosity will serve as fuel. One has to assume he didn't arrive in the best shape of his life just to loaf through camp, sleep through meetings and roll his eyes at the coaches.
This, J. P. insisted, is about fulfilling an obligation. It's a matter of professionalism.

"That's all it is," he said. "Everybody, no matter who you work with, has somebody at their job they don't like. What do you do? You work through it. You don't have to like everybody."

What the Raiders appear to have is a player ready to mine his talent — partly because he believes there is more and partly because he's ticked.

"A lot of things went on that I didn't agree with," Porter said, without being specific. "There were a lot of things that were basically done out of spite, to me and around me, that I didn't like. So, in turn, I did a couple of things."

One of which was to attend fewer "voluntary" off-season workouts, something bound to irritate his coaches. J. P. went his own way, did his own thing, and the results are nothing less than spectacular.

"Usually every year, I'm here for the off-season program," he said. "But this year I went down to Florida. They saw me maybe eight times all off-season. Usually, I'm here for 40-plus workouts."

Shell has low-keyed his relationship with Porter, insisting things are fine. Maybe they are, now. But more likely, their relationship — like that between all players and a new coach — is a work in progress.

"I've never dealt with an old-school guy, and I mean that honestly." Porter said. "But (Shell) seems to be paying more attention to detail. He wants guys to make sure everyone is onside. He wants everybody on time for meetings. It's about the little things.

"I guess, with the parity in this league, everybody is basically the same. So it's a matter of execution. If you pay attention to the little things, on and off the field, I guess it can't do anything but help you."

Porter finished last season with a team-high 76 catches and was second, behind Randy Moss, with 942 yards. Yet both wideouts were at times neglected. That should change, assuming Aaron Brooks can unload more quickly and be more efficient than the quarterback he replaced, Kerry Collins.

Inasmuch as J.P. is in his prime, having turned 28 this month, he knows this season is important, for him and the team, in terms of perceived attitude, established reputation and results.

"It's not like they're going to fold the organization," Porter said. "But it's time to do something. It's really nothing to be said. We have the pieces in place. There are no excuses. It's time to go play."

Time to sharpen the focus. Time to define the point of view. Time for the pro to come forth, shine like that belt and perhaps receive due appreciation.


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