Tight end Luke Stocker #83 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is decleated by Linebacker Philip Wheeler #50
The Raiders acquired Philip Wheeler primarily to play at strong side linebacker. He is seen as the direct replacement for Kamerion Wimbley who was cut this offseason. But the coaching staff has told Wheeler that he won't be confined to the duties of a strong side linebacker. And that is just what Wheeler was hoping for when he signed with the team.
"To be honest it's kind of difficult for me to decide on a position for myself because I think I'm versatile." Said Wheeler on the prospect of playing strong side linebacker for the Raiders. "The coaches also recognize that. I feel like playing that position it comes pretty simple to me. I don't worry about it as far as size and everything. I just want to be able to use all of my talent. I'm kind of a jack of all trades. I feel like in Indianapolis I wasn't able to use everything that I had. It didn't bore me. It just made me want to do something else, check to other teams. I just want to be able to use all of my talents. That's all. I feel like I'll be able to do that here. That's why I chose to play here."
With the plans in place to play a 3-4 hybrid defensive scheme in Oakland, there is definitely more opportunity for Wheeler to utilize the talents he claims to possess but never had a chance to show off in Indianapolis.
As an outside linebacker for the Raiders, he will be asked to protect against the run, which he did well enough for the Colts to rack up 85 tackles last season. He will also be dropping into coverage quite a bit which is expected for an outside linebacker and with his size and speed will work well for him. But most importantly, he will rush the passer-something he didn't do much while with the Colts.
Rushing the passer was something Kamerion Wimbley was asked to do quite often. And it resulted in his getting 16 sacks over the past two seasons.
The one stat that Wheeler has over Wimbley was his tackle numbers (85 to 63) last season. Outside of that, it remains to be seen how he will compare to the Raiders former strong side, pass rushing OLB.
But if he wants excitement from his playing duties, you can bet defensive coordinator and outside linebacker guru, Jason Tarver, will give him plenty to be excited about.