Friday, March 14, 2014
Howard lured to Raiders by Sparano
By Paul Gutierrez
New Oakland Raiders right tackle Austin Howard said assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano was one of the main reasons he decided to sign with the Raiders.
“He is a familiar guy, familiar coach, and I really love his style of coaching," Howard said in a conference call Thursday. “Once we got that call, it was honestly a no-brainer decision to get on the plane and make the trip out to Oakland."
Howard, who entered the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of Northern Iowa, figures to be the Raiders' right tackle. He signed a reported five-year, $30 million deal with $10.8 million in guarantees to come to Oakland after starting his past 32 straight games with the New York Jets.
It was in New York where Sparano was the Jets' offensive coordinator in 2012, Howard's first year as a starter.
“We all believe that the game is won and lost up front in the trenches," Howard said. “It's a tough position to play, offensive line. We want to be a powerful, dominant force. What else can you say? We want to go out there and we want to beat the guys up front, we want to lead this offense up front and we want to have guys in this group that can collectively play together and win together."
Howard models his game after that of former Eagles teammate Jason Peters, a left tackle, and last season Howard was credited with only giving up two sacks.
And the attraction of the Raiders?
“Honestly, I was excited to meet all the guys here," he said. “I understand that they have a very good group of guys here on the offensive line. It was probably the biggest attraction for me and my fiancÚ to come just because we know Coach Sparano and they presented a great opportunity to us. There's going to be some changes when you move from team to team and we expected that; getting to know the guys and getting to know the area, so we were honestly just excited to get out here."