Saunders to call offensive plays at Senior Bowl

Saunders to call offensive plays at Senior Bowl
January 21, 2013, 1:30 pm
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Al Saunders will call plays on offense for the North squad in the Senior Bowl. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

MOBILE, Ala. -- The first official Senior Bowl practice is under way here at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for the Raiders coaching staff, which is heading up the North squad.

And while the Raiders hired an offensive coordinator Saturday in Greg Olson and he is in attendance, senior offensive assistant Al Saunders will call plays for the North this week as Olson's hiring came too late in the Senior Bowl process.

New special teams coordinator Bobby April, whose hiring was also announced Saturday, is here as well.

The two coaching vacancies on Dennis Allen's staff -- offensive line and linebackers -- are being coached up this week by tight ends coach Mark Hutson and defensive assistant Travis Smith, respectively.

The Raiders are coming off a 4-12 season and you could say things have come to an interesting, if not full circle for Allen; it was here at the Senior Bowl last season that he was hired by then-new general manager Reggie McKenzie.

In fact, last year at this time, Saunders was the only Raiders assistant still under contract and working the week and game for Oakland.

Sunday night, in a ceremony to open Senior Bowl week, Allen was given a key to the city. The presenter, noting Allen's youthful appearance, asked him, "Are you still in college?"

Allen shook his head, "I'm a man, I'm 40," he said, jokingly.

This week, though, as Allen himself would tell you, is all about serious work for a franchise entering Year 2 of a rebuilding process.