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Joselio Hanson to play slot corner for his favorite team growing up

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Joselio Hanson #21 and Nate Allen #29 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after stoping the Detroit Lions on a fourth down play late in the game at Ford Field on September 19 2010
Joselio Hanson #21 and Nate Allen #29 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after stoping the Detroit Lions on a fourth down play late in the game at Ford Field on September 19 2010

For anyone following the Raiders rumors closely the past couple seasons, the name Joselio Hanson has become pretty familiar. It's good to see that it wasn't all just talk. And he is pretty happy things worked out the way they did as well.

The former Eagle grew up in Inglewood California before heading to Texas Tech for college. He got to come back to California for one season when he was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent. He made the team and spent the season in the Bay Area before they let him go and the Eagles came calling.

Now after seven seasons in Philadelphia, he returns to the Bay Area, this time for the team for which he wanted to play all along.

"I'm happy, man. Back in California. Grew up in LA, Raider fan, so this is just a dream come true."

Whenever a player is cut by another team, fans are left wondering why. It's like finding a girl or guy you like and then asking yourself the question "Why are they single?" and wondering when the other shoe will drop.

As Hanson explains it, his release was completely unexpected.

"I was surprised, yeah. Very surprised. I was the starting nickel all the way up to this cut day. Wasn't like they had any different kinds of lineup, the third preseason game or the fourth, I was that starting nickel corner. It was a shock, I won't lie."

Being that Hanson was the Eagles' current nickel corner on a pretty good defense, it makes sense that the Raiders were not alone in their courting of Hanson. Two other teams had inquired about his services-the Dolphins and Seahawks. And being a vested veteran, he wasn't subject to waivers and therefore going to whichever team claimed him.

It is a little bit ironic that the Seahawks were interested considering the Raiders claimed two corners they had released-Coye Francies and Phillip Adams.

Adams and Francies are expected to add depth as well as return kicks for the team. Hanson is expected to step in as the team's slot corner. That's what the Raiders got him to do. He will team up with two other veteran corners in Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer.

Said Dennis Allen of Hanson; "He has been a guy that's played a lot of years in the League in the slot and we just felt like it was a good thing to get another veteran guy in there with what amounts to a young room. So we thought that was something that helped us and upgraded our team and made us better. "

This new defense requires its corners to be intelligent. And that is what drew the Raiders to Hanson when he became available.

"He's really smart," said Allen. "He has got good quickness inside and so he matches up with some of the smaller, quicker slot receivers. But I just think he understands route combinations and how things happen inside the slot and I think that's the biggest learning adjustment that anybody that goes in and plays the nickel position that they've got to understand, they have to learn how to play the different route combinations that you see in there.

"A lot of it is football instincts and guys go in and just have a good feel for how things are going to happen and he has done a good job of that throughout his career, so we're excited about having him."

"I have so much experience in the slot, it's just second nature to me now," said Hanson. "I feel like you have to be real smart in the slot, read formations. I use my quickness to my advantage in the slot. You have to be tough, gotta field the run almost kinda like a linebacker. Slash linebacker DB."

Well, now that we know Hanson has the tools the Raiders were looking for in a slot corner, the question becomes whether he will be ready by Monday. Pat Lee was slated to be the primary nickel corner and he has been with the team the entire offseason. So it would seem that Lee would be the wiser choice in the short term. But Hanson doesn't think it will be tough to get up to speed in a week.

"In the next couple days I'll get it down," said Hanson. "I went over the whole playbook already so it's just now all about studying. It's the same defense, 4-3 defense, just different names, different plays. But once I get that down I think I'll be ready to go."

When asked about the difficulty with the Raiders' new playbook as compared to the one he had in Philadelphia, he said "I think this one might almost be a little easier."

Coach Allen seems to agree that Hanson is capable of being ready pretty quickly.

"He's smart, we have spent some time with him already talking over the defensive scheme and the things that we would ask him to do and he seemed to grasp it pretty quickly," said Allen. "So I would anticipate that he would have a pretty quick learning curve."

So it is possible the Raiders will line up with three corners over 30 years of age on Monday. That doesn't bother Dennis Allen or Reggie McKenzie. I suppose having guy like Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson starting for each of them last season gave them plenty of faith in the more veteran corners.

If it means they can execute this new defense, not much else really matters. And for Hanson, getting to continue his NFL playing career with his favorite team growing up has got to be pretty surreal.

If he can prove that the Eagles' trash is the Raiders' treasure, he can keep living that dream.