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High profile: Jerry Porter

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 26, 2003

GENERATION NEXT: Jerry Rice and Tim Brown get all the attention, but the 24-year-old Porter emerged as a dangerous weapon in the Raiders offense. Fourth on the team with 688 receiving yards in the regular season, he led the Raiders with nine touchdown receptions. When the Titans and Jets focused on the two potential Hall of Famers in Oakland's first two playoff games, Porter shined, catching 10 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

LEARNING FROM THE BEST: A third-year pro out of West Virginia, where he played receiver, quarterback and defensive back, Porter lacks the experience of Rice (18 years) and Brown (15 years). But who better to learn from than those two? "I would love for them to come back (next season)," Porter said. "It'd be hell for every team. Teams are going to have to change the way they draft and change the way they build in free agency. They have to pick players to combat the Raiders. You need three good corners. You need more active, faster linebackers."

MAKING A CHANGE: Charlie Garner's success out of the backfield indirectly helped Porter become more involved in the offense. The Raiders changed their approach to the offense, opting to retreat from a two-back set to the one-back set to integrate Porter more.

THE GAME PLAN: Porter will work the inside passing lanes while Rice and Brown stick to the outside. "We're going to feature him in a lot of different places and alignments, so he has the ability to work outside and up the field," coach Bill Callahan said. "He has given us an added dimension of, basically, a starting receiver. Even though he's considered a third (receiver), we consider him as a starting wideout in our game."

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