ALAMEDA, Calif. (Sept. 6, 2006) -- Alvis Whitted will start at wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders in their season opener against San Diego, filling the role vacated when Doug Gabriel was traded to New England.
The little-used Whitted hasn't started since the final game of the 2004 season and has just 11 starts in eight seasons in the NFL.
"He can run good routes and catch the ball, too," coach Art Shell said. He has "good quickness and explosion. ... This guy's been working the whole camp, worked all offseason, and this guy deserves a shot at it."
Whitted sat out the past two preseason games with a groin injury, but had four catches for 45 yards on Aug. 20 against the San Francisco 49ers.
Gabriel was slated to start before being traded to New England for an undisclosed draft pick. Last year's starter Jerry Porter, and Ronald Curry, who is coming back from an Achilles' tendon injury, appeared to be the top choices to take his place.
On Sept. 4, quarterback Aaron Brooks mentioned nearly all of the team's receivers other than Whitted as capable replacements for Gabriel.
Players were unavailable for comment after Shell made the announcement that Whitted would start.
The Raiders have always liked Whitted's speed, which fits into the deep-strike passing game Shell prefers. Despite that breakaway speed, Whitted has not put up big numbers in his eight years as a pro, with just 47 catches for 731 yards and six touchdowns.
Porter clashed with Shell about offseason training right after the coach was hired in February and demanded a trade at the start of training camp, but is the most accomplished receiver next to starter Randy Moss.
Porter led the team with 76 catches last season and has 239 receptions for 3,215 yards and 24 touchdowns in six seasons. Shell would not address Porter's place on the depth chart.
"He's on the roster," Shell said. "I'm not going to get into where he stands -- one, two, three, four, five. I'm not going to do that. He's on the roster, he's working, and that's all I can ask."