Oakland Raiders Training Camp: Previewing the Defensive Line

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Much like the entirety of the Oakland Raiders, the defensive line looks drastically different. In fact, Lamarr Houston is one of the two returning starters from the 2012 defense, along with Tyvon Branch. A good part of the Raiders’ reformation consists on the line, seeing high-priced players leave town in: Richard SeymourDesmond BryantTommy Kelly and Matt Shaugnhessy.

All the departures on the line contribute t0 2013 being a huge year for Houston. It creates the opportunity for him to be the marquee pass rusher for the Oakland defense, it what will likely be a make-or-break year for him. With the additions of Vance WalkerPat Sims and Jason Hunter to play alongside him, Houston should be playing the majority of defensive snaps. When you take into mind that the Raiders could play in a 3-4 set to a large extent, seeing Houston rotate from DE to DT is a likely scenario.

Looking at the depth chart, it is evident that the Silver-and-Black are thin on their defensive front, making a 3-4 base very logical for the team. The incomer Walker will potentially be the Raiders’ primary DT, while Sims will rotate in. With the uncertainty of skill behind Walker, builds to the possibility of a 3-4 set becoming the Raiders primary defensive package.

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Walker has the potential to be a huge steal for Oakland at only 26-years old. Walker played very well for the Atlanta Falcons both against the run and the pass. Walker had four sacks, 15 QB hurries and 25 tackles in 2012, which was probably his best season so far. The Raiders need him to continue to progress flourish as the teams No. one DT. On a one year, $2 million deal — hopefully he targets some of Oakland’s 2014 excess of cap space and steps his game up.

Outside of Houston, the DE position is still a mystery. Right now, it seems that Hunter and Andre Carter could share duties. Hunter hasn’t played since 2011, where he served as a backup. In 2010 he earned a good amount of starts and played well against the run.

The rookies DT Stacie McGee and DE David Bass could earn major roles given the Raiders depth on the line. A good showing in training camp will be incredibly pleasing as preseason football nears.

Studying tapes of Bass was marvellous. At first, while watching the tape of him, I was wondering how this guy didn’t go in the first round, then I realized he played for a Division-Two school. He literally dominated his competition for all four years of his college tenure, accumulating 40.5 total sacks. With the age and obscurity at DE, Bass becoming an eventual starter could definitely happen.

Training camp should help provide some answers to how the DT rotation could play out and who will play opposite of Houston. During mini-camp, the Raiders’ QB were consistently on the run apparently — hopefully that foretells well.

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