“I'm a more complete player,” Sheets told ESPN radio affiliate 95.7 The Game on Friday. “Now I'm a lot more patient runner and a lot better blocker than I was back then.”
Sheets, who signed with the Raiders on Wednesday, initially came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Purdue in 2009, signing with the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad. The Miami Dolphins signed him to their active squad later in the season and he appeared in two games and had one carry for 5 yards. He was on the Carolina Panthers' practice squad in 2011 before heading north for two seasons with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders.
In two years there, the 5-foot-11, 208-pound Sheets rushed for a total of 2,875 yards, on 516 carries, while averaging 5.6 yards per carry and he scored 23 rushing touchdowns. He also had 86 receptions for 781 yards and two TDs.
“I started out fourth on the depth chart,” Sheets said. “I went up there and earned a starting role and basically had great success and never looked back.”
He rushed for a Grey Cup-record 197 yards, on 20 carries, with two touchdowns in Saskatchewan's 45-23 defeat of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last November.
With two of the Raiders' tailbacks unrestricted free agents -- Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings and 2013 draft pick Latavius Murray spending last year in injured reserve -- Oakland has questions at running back. And while Sheets said nothing was discussed about making him a featured back, there will be an opportunity to compete.
“I'm a runner, basically, when I get the ball in my hand it's a non-stop thing,” Sheets said. “You never know what you're really going to get when a man's trying to tackle me. It could be a stiff arm or I could try to run through a guy or shake him.”