Crawford steps out from shadows in pads

August 1, 2012, 10:41 pm
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NAPA -- It wasn't that Jack Crawford was invisible or disappointing during rookie minicamp, three weeks of OTAs or a three-day minicamp. It's just that he did not stand out, so to speak.That changed Wednesday for the Raiders rookie defensive end. That it occurred on the first day the team wore pads should bode well for the fifth-round draft pick from Penn State, especially since many scouts see him as a project.Twice in the span of three snaps, Crawford broke clean through the line and, if the players were allowed to hit the quarterback, he would have had a pair of sacks. Again, in pads."You know, I felt good about today," Crawford said. "Theres always that feeling of getting in pads, how much thats going to change. Ive never played at this level before, so coming into this practice, I didnt know how it was going to be with putting the pads on. I didnt know what the step up was going to be from having no pads to putting them on. I just feel like after this practice, I feel good. I feel like I had a pretty decent practice, so I know I can compete, so now its just about getting better."Of course, as a backup, he was excelling against other backups, even third-stringers who will not be on the team come September. Still, success breeds success, right?"After practice I got a couple reps with the first-string offensive tackles and that stuff helps, just talking to them helps because they can critique me and help me get better as I move forward," Crawford said. "Its just the little things. So playing against the second stringers definitely helps because most of them have been in this league for a year or two."Just being able to elevate it to when I am going against the first string and being able to help out during the season. Thats my goal, making that 53-man roster and then making a difference to this team."The 6-foot-5, 274-pound Crawford, who grew up in England, only began playing football as a high school junior in New Jersey, hence the project label."Im pleased with Jack," coach Dennis Allen said. "Jack, obviously hes a young player so hes still learning the game, but hes a big guy thats got athleticism, and he wants to be good. And I think if you have athleticism and some football instincts and youre willing to work to get there, then hell, at some point, be a player for us."When I say that, what Im saying is hes willing to do the things that are necessary to be good. And I think in my experiences, some guys are willing to go that extra to really be good and some guys are looking for some shortcuts to take. They want to be good but theyre not willing to pay the price to be good. And hes one of those thats willing to pay the price to be good."It's a work ethic he's had since grade school, one that was fostered at Penn State, which is why he's conflicted with the developments at Happy Valley in the past year.Crawford, though, was far less outspoken than former college teammate-turned-Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski was earlier this week when he blasted the NCAA for the penalties the sports' governing body slapped on the Nittany Lions' football program."You know what, I couldnt say the same thing," Crawford said. "Its hard because I love Penn State, its a great atmosphere up there, some of the greatest fans in the country, theyre very loyal. I could understand it was hard, I know it from my former teammates it was definitely hard because theres so much media around. It was something that happened when I wasnt there, and now Ive moved on and Im thinking about the future."I keep in touch with all my friends from Penn State and I feel for everyone back there but personally, I have my mind set on different goals now. I offer my condolences to everyone whos been affected, especially all the victims but I cant say it affects me so much."

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