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Wisniewski ready to start and reconnect with uncle

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Posted May 21, 2011 @ 10:09 a.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

In the weeks since the Raiders drafted him, Stefen Wisniewski has spent time in Western Pennsylvania, shuttling between his hometown of Pittsburgh and the Penn State campus in State College. The former Nittany Lion, who was Oakland's top draft pick (No. 48 overall), has been lifting weights with teammates and hanging out with his family, passing the time until the NFL labor dispute is settled and he can begin his career as a professional football player.

Wisniewski told PFW that he is preparing for the season as if he will be the team's starting center in Week One. Head coach Hue Jackson told Wisniewski when they spoke following his selection that he's atop the depth chart, and though he says that he still has to "show up and work my butt off," the team is likely to place the rookie in the middle of the offensive line right from the start. His main task will be clearing a path for RB Darren McFadden, a job he is looking forward to.

"I'm really excited to get to block for McFadden, he's a beast," Wisniewski said. "He can make us look good because he can run through people and you know, as an offensive line, we'll try and make him look good, too. But he'll definitely be a great guy to block for. "

The lockout has not only put a strain on the rookie's career, but also his family. That's because his uncle, Steve Wisniewski, is also the Raiders' assistant offensive line coach. Without a labor agreement, Stefen can't get a head start on soaking up all the knowledge his uncle, an eight-time Pro Bowl guard in his 13 seasons as a player with the Raiders, can offer him. In fact, because he doesn't want to get in trouble, the nephew has broken off all lines of communication with his uncle.

"I haven't talked with him at all, because that's kind of a fine line. He's a coach first, I think, so I've kind of been treating it like that. So I haven't talked with him since the draft," Stefen Wisniewski said. "When they drafted me, I got to talk to him. I think he's just as excited as I am."

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