Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders signed offensive tackle Austin Howard Wednesday evening. The 6-7, 333-pound, tackle joined the Silver and Black after a little over two seasons with the New York Jets. Howard also spent time on the Baltimore Ravens practice squad in 2011 and was originally picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles as undrafted free agent out of Northern Iowa.
His path to and in the NFL has developed Howard into an all-around player. "I have a little bit of a different background coming from playing at a small school and then having to be on a practice squad and then a backup left tackle and right tackle for a few years before I finally got my start," explained Howard. "I know how important it is to have a work ethic and how to have goals and how to have dreams and how to work to attain those goals. I really feel like I can bring that to this team and really feel like I have some experience the past two years starting, so some leadership qualities and some knowledge about the game."
In Howard's first four years in the NFL, he played in 36 games, starting 33. The tackle will reconnect with his former offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano, who was the Jets offensive coordinator in 2012 and is currently the Raiders assistant head coach/offensive line. "I'm very familiar with Tony Sparano. He had given me a call and said they had some interest," said Howard. "We have a really great relationship so it was a no-brain decision I had to come out here for a visit and had a great talk and here we are. Now we're in Oakland and we're excited to get this thing rolling and get this season started."
The 26-year-old offensive lineman is looking forward to donning the Silver and Black. "You look at the history of this team, there's so much to be proud of to walk into, such rich history of the guys here," said Howard. "This is a team who knows how to win. This is a team who knows how to get things headed in the right direction," said Howard."
Howard is excited to begin the next phase of his career in Oakland. "[I'm] just happy to be part of the team."