Defense Analysis, Sam Williams, Curry And Other...

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6/16/2006

By Steve Corkran
Contra Costa Times


PERSONNEL ANALYSIS: Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan still favors a base defensive alignment that features three linemen and four linebackers, even though he didn't have much success with the formation his first two seasons. However, he now has enough solid linebackers to where it makes sense to lean upon a 3-4 alignment, whereas last season early in the first game he scrapped his plan of using converted defensive linemen Grant Irons and Tyler Brayton as outside linebackers and fell back on a scheme that relied heavily upon two linebackers and an extra defensive back. The return of OLB Sam Williams from a knee injury and the addition of LBs Darnell Bing and Thomas Howard makes it possible for Ryan to use the 3-4 more often than he did last season. Even so, the departure of massive DT Ted Washington means the Raiders can't rely upon the 3-4 a majority of the time. Therefore, look for Ryan to bounce in and out of the 3-4, 4-3 and the alignment that features two linebackers and five defensive backs as a way of confusing opposing offenses. . . .

Rookie SS Michael Huff has been everything the Raiders hoped for so far. He has a strong on-field presence, isn't afraid to stick his nose in a pile and shows the capability of being a strong leader. They haven't had that kind of feeling about a rookie defensive back since Charles Woodson arrived in 1998. At this rate, Huff is destined to be an immediate starter and key figure on Oakland's defense for years to come.

SCOUTING REPORT: Many regard the Raiders as having among the best receiving corps in the league, with Randy Moss, Jerry Porter and Doug Gabriel all dynamic players. However, some forget that Ronald Curry was the team's top receiver before he sustained the first of his two ruptured Achilles' tendons in 2004. He missed almost all of last season but is expected back at full strength this season. His above-average speed, sure hands and ability to get open on crucial downs makes him a player the Raiders will lean upon more and more as he works his way back into football shape. He is someone who can take off pressure from Moss and Porter and be a go-to guy on third-down plays, as he was before his injuries.

REHAB UPDATE: OLB Sam Williams' recovery from a torn knee ligament is just about complete, and he is expected at full strength by the time the Raiders start training camp a month or so from now. He missed all of last season after sustaining the injury in a training camp drill last year. A subsequent surgery remedied the problem, though Williams has endured a lengthy rehab process. He said he feels fine and ready to go.

INSIDE DISH: Moss and Porter skipped the team's third and final minicamp in early June. The three-day camp was a voluntary one, but coach Art Shell would've liked to have all his players attend, especially key players such as Moss and Porter. This doesn't bode well for team chemistry and Shell's command over the team in the long run.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES ANALYSIS: C-plus. Robert Gallery is switching to the left side for first time in his NFL career. Langston Walker is moving from left guard back to his natural right tackle spot. Barry Sims and Chad Slaughter provide adequate depth.
 
Well, let's hope teams don't do the Gruden shuffle and catch us with a bad personnel grouping on the field.
 
Ironic that now that we have the LB personnel to run the 3-4, we're lacking the mammoth DT (Big Ted) that is just as necessary. My guess is that we'll still run the 4-3 the majority of the time. Hopefully, our base defense won't be the nickel like it was last year.
 
Rupert said:
Well, let's hope teams don't do the Gruden shuffle and catch us with a bad personnel grouping on the field.

That thought has crosse my mind as well.
 
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