Gutierrez: Hagan has intangibles Raiders need

August 29, 2011, 5:27 am
Share This Post

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comOAKLAND -- Derek Hagan is anything but an X-box kind of guy. We learned this in training camp, when coach Hue Jackson praised the journeyman receiver for his work ethic and well, thumbing through the Raiders' playbook on most nights rather than fiddling with a video game controller.Hagan is a throwback, an Atari 2600 in a Wii world. And against New Orleans in the Raiders' eventual 40-20 exhibition loss, he was as dominant as the pixelated Larry Csonka on Sega.More impressive, though, he solidified his spot on the Raiders' 53-man roster. At least, if the Raiders were paying attention, he did.Hagan was everything Chaz Schilens was supposed to be, a rangy target with sure hands and nifty moves in the open field.RECAP: Saints double up Raiders at the 40-20
He caught all six balls thrown his way for a game-high 121 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown."He (was) always telling me in training camp, 'J, all I need is an opportunity. The Giants, I was with them and I didn't really get a chance to get in there and get that real opportunity. I'll make plays and I feel like I can make this team,'" recalled quarterback Jason Campbell. "So with that being said, he went out today and did what he had to do, personally, to make plays and show his ability and show his experience."He did a great job in a great opportunity of putting himself in the best position possible. But I think he's a great guy. He's a great teammate and we'll see what happens. But he definitely made a statement."Perhaps none louder than his catch and run for a touchdown.It was a straight hitch pass to the left side from Campbell and after cradling the ball, Hagan juked Saints cornerback Tracy Porter out of his own skin before a straight-arm to Porter's facemask set Hagan free. And he was gone for the score, tying the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter.And yet, coach Hue Jackson was not quite gushing over Hagan, a third-round pick of the Miami Dolphins out of Arizona State in 2006.If anything, Jackson sort of downplayed Hagan's bright spot on a night of defensive dark blemishes. And that's too bad."Until we get everybody back, this young man has a chance to play," Jackson said. "We're down still a couple of guys, an until that unfolds as we continue forward and shape this team to our vision, he's going to have an opportunity."Meaning the oft-injured Schilens, the recuperating-from-a-broken-left-hand Jacoby Ford and the sounds-like-a-sports-hernia-hobbled Louis Murphy are all technically ahead of Hagan.In fact, you could say Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore are ahead of Hagan on Jackson's depth chart, despite Hagan outperforming the two in this game. Even with Hagan also making a tackle on special teams.RELATED: Raiders In-Game notes -- Van Dyke's baptism by fire
He didn't join the Raiders as a free agent until Aug. 6, when fans were clamoring for Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress and the like. And there's always that thought on the streets of Silver and Blackdom that a certain higher power would prefer a draft choice have the spotlight.But if Hagan's game and his switching jersey numbers last week from No. 6 to No. 80 weren't tell-tale enough signs, Hagan also has the Raiders pedigree. Sort of.He lived in Los Angeles when the Raiders called the Southland home. He was three days old when the defending Super Bowl champs beat San Diego to start the 1984 season 4-0. And he was 10 years old when they played their final season in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.In between, he went to a game or two with his family. One particular game stood out from the rest."They played Denver and John Elway came in and," Hagan paused and giggled, "he ripped them up."Um, from 1988 through 1994 the Raiders were 8-0 in L.A. against the Broncos, including a playoff game.Meh, semantics. You get the point. The guy grew up swaddled in Silver and Black and now, he's rocking the colors and making a case for him to not only stick, but start. He paid particular mind to an up-and-coming Tim Brown.
"Ever since I was a little kid, I've always been a Raiders fan," Hagan said. "I played for Miami and I played for the Giants and I've always been a Raiders fan. So I always tuned in and checked in to see what was going on. Nothing wrong with that."Even less wrong with proclaiming him a sure thing to make the team. Then again, what's his Madden '11 rating?