Raiders announce seven coaches

February 2, 2012, 10:55 pm
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So this is the continuity Raiders fans might have been hoping for when it came to new head coach Dennis Allen's first staff.As expected, running backs coach Kelly Skipper and assistant offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski will return to their former roles, as will defensive quality control coach Eric Sanders.The Raiders made their respective returns official by announcing them in a press release that also introduced four other members of Allen's staff, three of whom had already been reported to have joined the Raiders -- Frank Pollack will be the offensive line coach after seven years as Houston's assistant O-line coach, Al Miller becomes the new strength and conditioning coach and John Grieco will be his assistant. The fourth hire is Justin Griffith, a former Raiders fullback who will be the offensive quality control coach.
Greg Knapp was officially announced as Allen's offensive coordinator on Wednesday, the Raiders O.C. in 2007 and 2008 who has been an O.C. in Seattle (2009) and the Texans quarterback coach the past two seasons.And while many observers felt retaining offensive coordinator Al Saunders, who is still under contact, ensured more continuity for a unit that was a bright spot last season for the 8-8 Raiders, the retention of Skipper and Wisniewski should soften that blow.Skipper, who will be returning for his sixth season in Oakland, his fourth as RB coach, is as respected as he is liked by Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. And why not? Under Skipper, the Raiders set a franchise record in averaging 4.9 yards per rushing attempt in 2010 and they were the No. 7 running attack in the NFL last season, despite losing McFadden for the season on Oct. 23.Wisniewski, meanwhile, worked well as a first-year assistant alongside veteran O-line coach Bob Wylie last season, when the Raiders surrendered just 25 sacks, third-fewest in the league. And with Pollack's history in Houston working primarily with the tackles, Wisniewski's past as an eight-time Pro Bowl guard is sure to balance things out. Houston was the No. 2-ranked rushing team in the NFL last year, averaging a franchise-record 153 yards on the ground per game. Still, a zone-blocking scheme seems on the horizon.While this will be Sanders' first season in his current position, he spent the previous two years as an offensive assistant.And Griffith, who played for the Raiders in 2007 and 2008 and started 14 games, will be on the first coaching assignment of his career.