Cable officially takes over as Raiders' head coach, hires coordinators

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Although Tom Cable is aware of the stiff challenges he's assuming by staying with the Oakland Raiders, their no-longer-interim head coach only sees the opportunities.

Raiders owner Al Davis formally introduced Cable as the team's fifth head coach since 2003 on Wednesday in a news conference that lacked the theatric vitriol of last year's rare public appearance by Davis, when he promoted Cable and fired Lane Kiffin four weeks into the season.

The Raiders also announced the hiring of several more assistant coaches, nearly completing Cable's overhauled staff. Ted Tollner was named the Raiders' passing game coordinator, and veteran NFL assistant John Marshall will be Cable's defensive coordinator.

After finishing 4-8 as the Raiders' interim head coach last season, Cable gradually sold himself to Davis during a five-week process lengthened by the death of Cable's father. Although Davis said he strongly considered another candidate, Cable's enthusiasm and loyalty won over the Hall of Fame owner.

"As I said when this became an interim job in October, this is my dream," said Cable, a Merced, Calif., native who joined the Raiders as their offensive line coach in 2007. "This was my team growing up. There's not anything in the world I'd rather be doing. "I'm honored to have the opportunity. I'm very honored by what this football team did in the last six weeks of the regular season and where we have grown as a football team, and I know right now where we need to go to get to the playoffs."

After a rocky start to a tenure that began in the wake of Davis' vicious public spat with Kiffin, Cable led the Raiders (5-11) to back-to-back victories at the close of their sixth consecutive losing season. That late surge made an impression on Davis, who praised Cable's leadership and play-calling while also defending the deliberate process of selecting him.

"He took over a team last year in the middle of the season, and I thought he did well," Davis said. "There were peaks and there were valleys there. There were things that came up from time to time, but he's young. He loves it. He loves football, and I admire the passion for it, where I'm not so sure all the other (former Raiders coaches) had that passion."

Davis and Cable both said the coach hired the Raiders' new assistants, including several who joined the team while the owner claims he was still deliberating between Cable and another unnamed finalist, suspected to be New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.

With Wednesday's addition of linebackers coach Mike Haluchak and the promotion of Adam Henry to tight ends coach, Cable's staff vacancies have been filled, except for an offensive line coach.

The Raiders won't have an official offensive coordinator, with Cable calling the plays in conjunction with Tollner and quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett. Tollner was an offensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers last season, and Marshall was the Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator for the past six seasons under departed head coach Mike Holmgren.

Although much of the staff is new, Cable believes his experience with the players will be significant.

"I feel like I understand that locker room," Cable said. "I know who the leaders are. I know who the young people are that have to be pushed to become leaders on this football team. ... They're going to know where I stand, and I'm going to tell them the truth."

Davis said quarterback JaMarcus Russell has an ankle problem that might require further treatment, although the owner didn't specifically mention surgery. Davis also said he was open to discussions about sharing a prospective new stadium with the San Francisco 49ers, encouraging a possibility that has been suggested for several months for the two Bay Area teams, who play in two of the NFL's worst buildings.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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