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Raiders lean on Leinart’s knowledge of offense

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POSTED May 15, 2012 1:37 a.m.

ALAMEDA (AP) — Matt Leinart has gone from being Carson Palmer’s protege at Southern California to his teacher with the Oakland Raiders a decade later.

Leinart signed with Oakland earlier this month to back up his former college teammate and also pass on tips based on his intricate knowledge of the Raiders’ new offense. Leinart spent the past two seasons in Houston, where new Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Knapp was his quarterbacks coach.

“It made just perfect sense for me to come here and help out these guys with this offense because this is a brand new offense for almost everyone on the offensive side,” Leinart said. “It was a no-brainer, a great opportunity for me to come in here and help in any way I can.”

Leinart said he learned a lot about this offense playing behind Matt Schaub the past two seasons and is ready to pass on those tips.

For example on Monday, at the team’s first OTA, Leinart said he told Palmer to stay with a certain route a little bit longer because it will pay off for him.

“The great thing is, I’ve repped a lot of these plays over the course of the past two seasons whereas he’s running a lot of these plays for the first time or second time,” Leinart said. “I’ve watched Matt Schaub who operates this offense as good as anybody, I’ve picked his brain for two years. In essence, I’m here for Carson to help him with reads, to let him know that certain things are very good, just to stay on it, because when you’re taught a new offense, there’s things you’re not used to. You’re used to doing it a certain way. Sometimes the reads are a little different.”

Palmer is not known as a mobile quarterback, raising questions about how well he would fit into an offense that relies heavily on bootlegs and rollouts.

Leinart said he believes the transition will be easy, noting it has some similarities to what they both ran when they won their Heisman Trophies at USC.

“Carson’s been around a long time. He’s a smart quarterback, he’s had a lot of success. He’ll be fine,” Leinart said. “But that’s definitely the cool thing, we’re so comfortable with each other, we’ve been teammates, we’ve been friends for the past 10 years, so that’s the relationship we have and I’m here to help him as much as possible.”

Leinart spent two years behind Palmer at USC, including when Palmer won the Heisman Trophy in 2002. Leinart took over the Trojans the next season and won two national championships and the Heisman Trophy in 2004.

He was drafted 10th overall by Arizona in 2006 despite being told by late Raiders owner Al Davis that Oakland wouldn’t let him get past seven. The Raiders took safety Michael Huff instead and Leinart went to the Cardinals.

Leinart started 11 games as a rookie with the Cardinals but only seven games in the past five seasons. He broke his collarbone after five starts in 2007 and then was beaten out for the starting job the next season by Kurt Warner. He spent the past two seasons with the Texans as  Schaub’s backup.

Leinart got a chance to start last season with the Texans after Schaub broke his right foot. But Leinart got hurt in the first half against Jacksonville on Nov. 27 after completing 10 of 13 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, ending his season. Leinart was cut by the Texans in March and signed with the Raiders on May 1.

“I knew that I wasn’t going to go into a place to be named the starter,” he said. “I understand that, but my mentality is I’m still confident that I can start, I’m still confident that I can play, and the good thing is that I know this offense well, so I feel comfortable when I get my chance or I get the reps, that I can execute it.”

Leinart has completed 57.6 percent of his passes in his career with 15 touchdowns, 20 interceptions and a 71.6 passer rating.

Notes: The Raiders signed seven players who came to this past weekend’s rookie minicamp on a tryout: K/P Eddy Carmona, DE Wayne Dorsey, TE Kyle Efaw, T Kevin Haslam, CB LeQuan Lewis, FB TreShawn Robinson and WR Travionte Session. ... Oakland also waived QB Rhett Bomar and TE Andre Hardy.

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