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Hostetler Eager to Put Last Season Away

July 19, 1996

NAPA, Calif. (AP) _ Oakland quarterback Jeff Hostetler, sidelined last season by various injuries and shoulder surgery, is eager to erase last year’s messy conclusion from everyone’s memory.

The Raiders were 8-2 before they fell apart, losing their final six games. Hostetler missed all or parts of the team’s final seven games because of injuries.

``We did some great things at the beginning of the season last year and then we let some things divide us _ some divisive things that in order to win a championship you can’t have on a team,″ he said Thursday.

Hostetler, 35, said he had completely recovered from surgery last December that repaired a torn rotator cuff in his left, non-throwing shoulder. He could be in even better shape than before the injury, he said.

``That’s the case here. You start working on some things that maybe you haven’t worked on for a while. I feel extremely good, both shoulders feel great.″

Hostetler completed 172 of 286 passes for 12 touchdowns last season, but a myriad of injuries slowed him considerably. He had trouble with his hand, elbow and throat before the shoulder injury forced him to watch the team’s downfall from the sidelines.

Hostetler first injured his shoulder in the team’s Nov. 12 victory against the New York Giants, then re-aggravated it the next week in a loss to Dallas. He tried to return Dec. 17 at Seattle, but was re-injured.

Meanwhile, as the Raiders’ chances for the playoffs dropped, their frustration grew. The lackluster play at the end of the season was at times exacerbated by player conflicts.

That won’t happen this season, Hostetler said.

``When something’s popping up, no matter what it is, who it is, when it is, you gotta step on it right away and make sure it doesn’t grow into something bigger that what you can control,″ he said.

The 13-year NFL veteran said he has already taken steps to prevent such a downfall this season _ going to the players and all the way to owner Al Davis.

``I’ve talked with different players, I’ve talked with coaches, talked with Mr. Davis, about all that stuff. It was something that needed to be addressed,″ he said. ``I wanted to jump right on it right away. That’s something that we can’t have this year.″

Hostetler, who was an unrestricted free agent, was re-signed by the Raiders on April 2. He is the Raiders’ No. 1 quarterback, followed by Billy Joe Hobert, free agent acquisition David Klingler and rookie Alfred Montez.

Coach Mike White said that at this point in camp, he’s looking for all the quarterbacks to perform, and not necessarily focusing on competition. That doesn’t mean Hostetler can rest on his reputation.

``Does Hostetler have competition?″ White said. ``Sure, he has competition.″

Regardless of the work he’s in for, Hostetler is grateful last season is over and a new one is about to begin.

``We’ve got to start anew, everybody does. Some guys played great last year, some guys did not play great,″ he said. ``But you know what? Whatever you did last year doesn’t matter this year.″

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