Huff signs deal with Raiders
By JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer
July 25, 2006
NAPA, Calif. (AP) -- First-round pick Michael Huff signed a $22.5 million, five-year contract with the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday that guarantees the safety $15 million.
Huff agreed to the parameters of the deal Monday night, but didn't sign it until minutes before Tuesday's afternoon practice on the Raiders' first day of training camp.
"This morning when everyone was out here I was just wishing I was out here," Huff said. "But I'm out here now."
The Raiders are very satisfied to have the No. 7 overall pick in camp on the first day of practice. Huff is being counted on to fill the hybrid role Charles Woodson played last year: blitzing, covering slot receivers and playing deep safety. He's even wearing Woodson's No. 24.
Huff played every secondary position at Texas, making 318 tackles in a career that ended with the Longhorns' 41-38 victory over unbeaten USC in the Rose Bowl for the national championship.
"He's a very athletic guy, a very smart guy, you can give him a couple of different things, and he picks them up very well," coach Art Shell said. "We don't see it as a problem. He can play free safety, he can play strong safety, he can play corner. He can do all those things. That's a plus for us in the secondary."
Huff admits he has plenty to learn about the NFL game, and will lean on the Raiders' veterans to get up to speed. He begins camp as a second-team player, backing up Derrick Gibson and Stuart Schweigert at safety.
But Shell has said Huff will have every chance to earn a starting role in training camp.
"I'm comfortable with that because there are a lot of great experienced guys ahead of me that I can learn from," Huff said. "So I'm going to go out there and learn and get better every day and be the best player I can be. Whenever it's my time to be on the field, that's where I'll be."
Huff started every game the past two seasons at strong safety and made a career-high 109 tackles in 2005, including 10 for loss. He caused four fumbles, recovered two and ran one of those back for a touchdown. He also deflected 14 passes and made two interceptions.
The Raiders will be counting on him and fellow rookie Thomas Howard at linebacker to add speed to a defense that was last in the NFL with five interceptions and tied for 27th with only 19 turnovers caused on defense.
"You can see it on film. The eye in the sky never lies," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "You put guys out there like Howard and Huff and some of the guys we have got moving around now and it's pretty fast. We just have to be able to swarm to the ball and make it pay off for us."
In other news, Shell said a few players were slowed with the temperature in the 90s in Napa, with some cramping up and others forced to briefly leave practice to vomit. Shell gave the team water breaks after about an hour of each practice.
Offensive tackle Robert Gallery and receiver Ronald Curry missed practice because they are on the physically unable to perform list. Curry is recovering from a torn left Achilles' tendon sustained in the second game last season and expects to be practicing next week.
Gallery strained his left quad running on July 16 and also expects to be back practicing soon.
"It's nothing to worry about. It's something that can bother you and get worse. It's better now than in the season," Gallery said. "When you weigh this much and you're that explosive this can happen."
Defensive back Stanford Routt also missed practice with an illness, and receiver Jerry Porter missed most of the afternoon practice with a calf injury.