Raiders' Satele anchors strong line

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Raiders left guard Stefen Wisniewski called it a dream block. Khalif Barnes likened it to a motivational speech with a physical twist.

Samson Satele said he was simply hitting the player closest to him.

Satele's block on Jets safety Jim Leonhard was the signature moment during rookie Denarius Moore's 23-yard touchdown on a reverse in the second half of Oakland's 34-24 win over New York last week, and not just because it knocked the 5-foot-8, 188-pound Leonhard off his feet.

It was a clean play, to be certain, and in many ways embodied coach Hue Jackson's credo of building a bully.

"You don't get them a lot, especially against a good defense, but Sammy pulled around, sized him up pretty good and sprung him," Barnes said Thursday. "Those are the kind of things that get you going. Even though he did it, it made the whole line feel great because it was one of us."

Oakland's line has apparently been on a feel-good trip for a while.

Heading into Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, the Raiders own the NFL's top-ranked rushing attack and have allowed only two sacks. One came when quarterback Jason Campbell tripped over the feet of running back Darren McFadden.

Satele has been at the center of the resurgence, literally and figuratively.

Generously listed at 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, he is one of the smallest centers in the league and wasn't even certain if he'd return for a third season with the Raiders after the team spent its top draft pick on Wisniewski.

But after a solid training camp in which he held off Wisniewski's push for the starting center position, Satele is not only feeling more comfortable in his surroundings, he's anchoring a unit that has been among the NFL's best through the first three weeks of the season.

"I think all those guys from a year ago are playing better," Jackson said. "(Satele's) done a really good job. That was a tremendous block the other day. I keep seeing people talk about how people blocked us but trust me when I tell you we blocked some people, too. No doubt about that."

There was definitely no doubting Satele's block on Leonhard.

After initially starting to his right to help sell the reverse, Satele suddenly cut back to his left toward the open field and began looking for someone to block. Jets linebacker Bart Scott was in the area, and so was Leonhard.

"But Bart Scott was too ahead and Jim Leonhard was in the wrong spot," said Satele, grinning. "Obviously it was a highlight but I was just out there doing my job. I heard the crowd yell. I didn't know if it was for my hit. It probably was for the touchdown."

Leonhard went sailing in the air and landed flat on his back while Moore weaved his way through traffic into the end zone.

Satele, acquired from Miami in a trade before the 2009 season, credits new offensive line coach Bob Wylie and his assistant, former Raiders All-Pro Steve Wisniewski, with helping him improve.

The two men scrapped the zone blocking schemes favored by former coach Tom Cable and have Oakland back to using a power system that's better suited for the Raiders' front five.

"The techniques they teach us out there help me out a lot," Satele said. "I'm not a big 6-7, 360 guy so I'm not going to be a power guy. But with the techniques they teach us, the double-unders are great for me and the rest of the guys."

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