Camp wrap ’08: defense


Impressions gathered from viewing 24 of 26 training camp practices over the course of 21 days:

— Not long after camp opened, Lane Kiffin offered a preemptive strike, musing about the importance of the offseason program in light of the fact that his two best players weren’t even participants.

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha walked into camp on time, signed his exclusive free agent tender and was so good he looked like a bargain at $9.7 million.

Defensive end Derrick Burgess put on eight to 10 pounds of muscle working out on his own, showing up only to the mandatory minicamp, and was essentially unblockable. Raiders tackles found themselves getting nothing but air or simply being shoved aside by one of Burgess’ perfectly sculpted arms.

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is flopping sides with Burgess now and then, moving him from his more familiar left side to the right. The idea is to get him an a single blocker from time to time, rather than the double-team plus a chip treatment he has received so often the last two years.

The truth about training camp defense is it is can be extremely deceiving because there is no actual tackling. Tackling only happens to be the most important thing about defense.

But there was no mistaking what Asomugha brought to pass coverage and Burgess brought to the pass rush. If health is not an issue, and Asomugha’s sore foot is at least a little troubling, the Raiders have two cornerstone defensive players to help build a viable defense.

— Training camp restrictions being what they are, there is no way to know for sure if the Raiders have repaired the gaping hole in the middle of their defense which opposing runners ran through repeatedly in 2007.

They should be better, but how much better? Do they go from giving up an embarrassing 4.8 yards per carry to the 4.0 range, or could they actually do even better and be above average.

Two reasons for optimism _ Tommy Kelly’s brief but dominating appearance against the San Francisco 49ers, and the presence of Gibril Wilson at strong safety.

Kelly has a ways to go in terms of conditioning, as witnessed by his feeble yet comic attempt at taking a lap the other night after being called for offsides. Kelly was collapsing the 49ers line almost single-handedly, but to do that for four quarters he will need more stamina. Rehab from knee surgery put him behind, and Kelly needs to catch up.

The Raiders aren’t paying him all that money to be a part time player.

Wilson has been a guy who plays bigger than the 210 pounds or so he weighs, and his presence in the box will be a welcome one in a division featuring LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and whoever is the Broncos runner of the week.

— More optimism regarding the run defense _ linebacker Thomas Howard looks a little bigger and a little meaner without sacrificing the speed and ability that makes him one of the NFL’s best pass coverage linebackers. He and Kirk Morrison are intent on shedding their reputation as pass defenders who give ground against the run.

They need to be much, much better than a year ago. The two or three series they play against a hard-nosed Tennessee running game will be a good litmus test.

— The Raiders brought a lot of pressure during training camp, which makes aggressive amateur defensive coordinators salivate with the possibility of more blitzing.

Much of the additional pressure was to prepare JaMarcus Russell for what the Raiders think he’ll see. Kiffin could have been sandbagging, but more likely he was telling it like it is the other day when he was addressing Stanford Routt’s role as a nickel back and said, “We’re not very complicated on third down, our defense. We don’t blitz very much so he doesn’t have to do very much.”

— The play of Raiders’ offensive tackles makes it a tough call, but there may be some help for Burgess in terms of a natural rush. Jay Richardson, a decent point-of-attack player as a rookie and tall enough to take away passing lanes, has had some success getting deeper into the backfield. Kalimba Edwards has practices where it looks as if he will fit nicely into the Chris Clemons role as a situational rusher.

— The resurrection of Terdell Sands to be the kind of inside force he was as a part-time player in 2006 is still far from complete. Sands conceded he went into an understandable funk last year after the death of his mother and let his weight get out of control.

He is lighter this year _ how much, no one will say _ but he has already had a knee drained and is missing practices. It’s tough to get into shape that way. Sands will probably continue to back up Gerard Warren, who through most of his career has been either impressive or invisible _ sometimes from one week to the next.

— In early practices, sixth-round pick Trevor Scott looked like he might be a wasted pick. Later, he looked like he might be a find. Line coach Keith Millard beams like a proud papa when Scott’s progress is the topic.

Yet you see Scott in person and it’s almost alarming. He physically resembles Stuart Schweigert, and in fact doesn’t look much bigger. Listed at 255, Scott, in truth, is slightly under 250. He won’t be 260 until next year at the earliest.

— When camp started, Michael Huff looked liberated to be at free safety and making the occasional play with the kind of anticipation the position requires. The plays became more infrequent as time went on.

It’s nearing make-or-break time for Huff to justify his No. 7 overall selection in 2006, and it’s a tossup as to which way it will go.

— The whole strong side linebacker issue makes for interesting reading, being that it’s a starting position and all, but the truth is the winner will be the first player off the field when its time for nickels and dimes.

That’s why the Raiders didn’t make a serious run at Takeo Spikes, who wound up in San Francisco. They’d rather pay the veteran’s minimum for an Adam Archuleta than invest another half-million or so into a player who would be an ideal strong side linebacker but spend too much time on the sidelines to justify the money.

Not saying it’s right, and in fact it probably isn’t in this case.

— DeAngelo Hall is going to catch some heat, both from opposing quarterbacks as well as the home fans. Teams are still going to avoid Asomugha, and Hall will be there for the taking. He will also occasionally make a break on the ball and make a big play, and has a knack for being in the area when balls are deflected.

If you’re expecting a shutdown corner, guess again. There are precious few of those around.

— Routt has had an excellent training camp. He could have been miffed by Hall’s acquisition but instead has appeared to elevate his performance in practice.

Now it has to carry over into games. One of Hall’s strengths is he forgets when he just got beat and it doesn’t prevent him from coming back to make a play. Routt has had a habit of letting the failures which come with the territory affect him for the rest of the game.

Routt will need to be at the top of his game, because things get extremely thin after that at cornerback.

— Bad break for Tyvon Branch, with his right thumb encased in a cast. He could still end up being a defensive contributor at some point during the season, if his goal line hit against the 49ers’ Cam Colvin is any indication.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • edward teach

    And if the effort level starts to drop on defense, Mr. Wilson should begin knocking out our guys as well.

    Be a leader out there, and set the tone for everyone else. That’s what Ray-Ray would do.

  • Hey wattup Brien?

  • gil

    I Will try Legal Zoom,thanks,bro

  • Blackholepriest

    D Hall will be one of the top 4 corners in the game again this year he and Nnamdi may both go to the probowl.

    I’ve been saying it and now some of you are saying it, this defense will be a much better unit than last year. Why? TALENT ……………perid

    Also the passing game will be fine once their timing gets better. Jerry’s comments about Walker are somewhat short sighted, Walker is in a different situation with a rookie QB and a lot of new players. Not to make excuses but he will show you when the lights turn on. He’s a vet and knows when it counts. Kiffin will learn that about this league. Veteran guy’s who are sure of their abilities don’t go all out early in camp the gradually work their way into it. And by the time the regular season starts they are ready to go.

    Walker will be fine trust me. And another thing our WR corp will look a lot better by midseason.

  • i dress in black

    Drafting at #5 the Raiders take…. James Laurinaitis linebacker USC

  • Blackholepriest

    JL plays for Ohio ST, Ray malie. plays for USC and quite frankly I prefer the USC MLB

  • Blackholepriest

    Also, I think the Raiders picking in the top 10 days are over, we’ll be in the high teens.

  • i dress in black

    BHP – your right being a smart ass… reading bad intel


  • i dress in black

    picking in the teens means; 500 or better and as much as read about improvement in all facets. I just don’t think we have the talent or the depth to sustain over 16 games

  • Raider Raul 53

    Jerry, jerry, jerry…
    What did I say about NEVER mentioning Stu Schwaggert’s name AGAIN??? For ANY reason!!! Stop bringing him up…he’s not worth the efforts of your fingers to type. NO MORE STU REFERENCES!!!

  • Mistabrown

    BHP, you keep repeating we blitz alot but we (posters) are too stupid to know what we are looking at.

    Jerry quoted Kiffin saying we dont blitz.

    So…I guess either…

    A- Kiffin is stupid and doesnt know what he is looking at.
    B- You talk out your ass a little.

    Kiffin could have been sandbagging, but more likely he was telling it like it is the other day when he was addressing Stanford Routt’s role as a nickel back and said, “We’re not very complicated on third down, our defense. We don’t blitz very much so he doesn’t have to do very much.”

    Kiffin also mentions RR’s vanilla defense as not being “complicated”. Much to OakGlenns shagrin I imagine.

  • Mistabrown your not even the beginning of a pimple on BHP’s ass.

    This guy understand football and The Raider organization a lot better than you ever will.

    “Jerry quoted Kiffin saying we dont blitz.”

    “Kiffin could have been sandbagging”

    Ya Think!!!!

    “A- Kiffin is stupid and doesn’t know what he is looking at.
    B- You talk out your ass a little.”

    Or C Mistabrown is a slightly retarded and doesn’t take the time to read the all of the information but instead takes a small snippet of a post out of context and berates the poster about it.

  • I really wish some one would step up and stand out and legitimately claim that strong side LB spot. Its been a flip flop from the first day of camp and no one has really taken over that spot and made it thiers for good. It looks like at the end Robert Thomas will win by default. YA KNOW?!

  • CopenhagenFan

    I have a bad feeling because we still have so many holes.

    1. Weak OT’s and no depth

    2. Unresolved Center position (I don’t see any of the candidates being above average).

    3. WR- Walker (maybe out of gas), Curry (average and not improving), Carter (a no. 3 guy at best), JLH (he’s not going to be a factor on offense)

    4. DT – Maybe Kelly comes through, but Warren and Turdel are not showing that they will come through.

    5. No depth at LB and no depth at TE.

    6. QB is a big question mark period!

  • CopenhagenFan

    oh yeah 7. When Burgess gets hurt who’s gonna bring the heat?

  • DirtyBathWater

    Hey will the game be broadcast on radio, internet?

  • La Milicia Negra

    Jim CT & Dakota..

    I’ve tried several times now to go back to Football, but each time I’m away there is a new attack..

    Most of your points I simply don’t get, I don’t understand what you are trying to prove..

    usually I respond to comments, but for the sake of the greater good, I wont.. don’t come and say something like i’m a coward, because then I will start comment on you clueless rants..

    I’m not commenting on you last post for the sake of the rest of the NATION.. I found it very tedious and that you apparently never will understand my points.. thats okay with me, i’m not in trouble..

    but lastly.. for the record.. Never said I don’t like americans or america.. I said your economy is in trouble bigtime, and I said and I stand by that, I don’t like the way you are teaching you kids to think about them selves..

  • La Milicia Negra

    # M Says:
    August 14th, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Morning Nation,

    very cool, when I left this site yesterday La Milicia Negra was expressing some poignant views and others were responding in various ways. I was born here and bear witness to the flaws of this country every day. It is what it is, and from the world I have roamed to understand that all countries, cultures and societies are flawed. So be it. Humans being humans. When any nation except the Raider Nation declares “I’m #1!” it is wholeheartedly in error.

    I totally agree.. couldn’t say it better myself.. its exactly my points..

  • La Milicia Negra

    # Exlaraiderseasonticketholder Says:
    August 14th, 2008 at 8:30 am

    I have to go to the Kroger grocery to make an exchange. Seems the Danish Canned Ham was full of gristle. Could you lodge a complaint for me. They also put too much liquid and not enough ham. lol lol

    LOL I’ll see what I can do.. but I never eat canned meat so I don’t know the problem..

    My advise to you, stop eating canned meat, its unhealthy, real men eat real meat.. =)

  • La Milicia Negra


    yes it will =) you can find it on P2P, it will be shown as tv ants..

  • Jim (ct raider)

    LMN: you are a racist. By the way, after reading about your neighborhood (you call it a country), it appears the rest of Europe calls your country racist! That shocked me.

    again, what did i teach my kids to think about themselves?

    I believe European countries (not your neighborhood the real countries) should step up on helping other countries and we should step down. The link i showed yesterday shows us providing 27% of the worlds humanitarian finances. We were the only country in double digits! Saudi Arabia was a mere 6%. The big European countries combined less than our donations. That is a problem. I could save a lot of money if we said screw everyone as the europeans do.

  • LosT
  • LosT
  • LosT
  • Jim (ct raider)

    lmn: do not agree w/m. You feel your country is the greatest. also, when a woman gets pregnant it is more that just her. you watch too much tv and see only the small few who do not take care of their kids. You should come to america some time.

  • LosT
  • La Milicia Negra

    Sorry guys.. I tried to let this go..

    Jim you freaking 1diot.. what is it you think I said about your precious country..

    you are putting words in my mouth.. you are reading a bunch of stuff about Denmark, theogh a week ago you didn’t even know it existed.. you infos/sources are more than dubious..

    I dont get you point, what is it you are trying to prove??

    lastly.. IM A RACIST?? where the fu©k do get that from? get a grip please.. furthermore that comes from YOU??

  • La Milicia Negra


    I totally agree with M, he said exactly what I meant.. and his last point was my original point when this ‘lets bash Denmark’ started..

  • Jim (ct raider)

    Denmark is too irrelevant to bash. It’s cute. It is a recipient of many good policies made by big brother countries w/more responsibility. Basically, Denmark is the little sister living at home and nothing is wrong with that but i don’t think it’s comparative to a grown up w/many responsibilities.

  • La Milicia Negra


    answer me.. why do you say i’m a racist.. what is it you think I said about your country.. because your ridiculous rants is without merit.. what is your point?

  • LosT

    ALL MY CHILDREN – Starring “Jim” and “La Milicia Negra”

    Whay don’t you guys exchange emails or phone #’s and get it over with???

    This is a RAIDER BLOG!

  • La Milicia Negra


    you come and talk racism, how dare you? you are the second worst country, regarding racism, south Africa is the leader, your politicians talk smack about immigrants they say embarrassing things bout Hispanics and horrific things about musl1ms..

    why do you say I’m a racist, where is your proof? not one day without a racist slur on this blog.. so who is it who sits on a high horse now kiddo?`

  • La Milicia Negra


    yeah you are right.. I’ve tried to move on, but when people say i’m a racist i get pissed, then I have to pick up the gauntlet..

  • Jim (ct raider)

    there you go again. that’s not true.. it’s only what you see.


    1. they talk about ILLEGAL immigrants.
    3. You talk about generalties about our country. You repeat rhetoric.
    4. you’re a 14 yr old tv watcher.
    5. you came on here talking about how great your country and that ours is a pos. but when i started researching your country.. oh my… hhahahah first of all your country is a houselhold that i can manage while i sleep.
    6. Denmark raised the time to become a citizen from 3 years to 7 years specifically not to allow muslims citizenship! hahahahhahahahahahh

  • Jim (ct raider)

    i’m tired of TWERP coming in and bashing our country but he loves it enough to watch our news nightly and be on our blog.

    LMN: welcome to america. you have freedom of speech here.

  • La Milicia Negra

    a Last thing..

    you’re right Denmark isn’t the size of China, russia or USA.. (size doesn’t matter LOL)

    Never said it was.. Never said it was the best either.. I let others to do that..

    In fact when I have to compare Denmark to USA, I usually compare it with the Bay area.. roughly 5.5M and so-so same way of thinking…

    To sum up, I said you economy is doing down, I said I fear that you in 15 years time will look like the former sovjet-states here in Europe after 1989.. and lastly I said I don’t like the way you are taught to think about your selves..

    I think, even if it is a topic, not suiting most americans, I’ve been very civil, something I think those of you who replied haven’t been..

  • CopenhagenFan

    Let’s talk some football

  • Exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    La Milicia Negra Says:
    August 15th, 2008 at 6:07 am
    # Exlaraiderseasonticketholder Says:
    August 14th, 2008 at 8:30 am

    I have to go to the Kroger grocery to make an exchange. Seems the Danish Canned Ham was full of gristle. Could you lodge a complaint for me. They also put too much liquid and not enough ham. lol lol

    LOL I’ll see what I can do.. but I never eat canned meat so I don’t know the problem..

    My advise to you, stop eating canned meat, its unhealthy, real men eat real meat.. =)
    Are you admitting that Denmark is exporting unhealthy meat for the rest of the world to consume? Seems like a double standard and serves your full renunciation! lol

  • LosT
  • Exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    Yes, the Raider game tonight is being broadcast in N/W Ohio. 10hrs 12min til game time.

    Go Raiders!!!

  • La Milicia Negra


    I honestly don’t now what kinda food or “food” we are exporting.. I know meat and cheese and other milk products is somethign we sell..

    But comeon, you give us McD, KFC, burgerking and other stuff, then it seems fair to send you are dirty canned ham, doesn’t it? LOL

    exLA, but honestly you shouldn’t eat canned food..

  • La Milicia Negra


    Lord knows I’ve tried…

  • La Milicia Negra

    if Tenn gets under 250yds running on us, I see it as victory, 250-300 I see as so-so, and lastly above 330yds, I see it back to last years run defense..

  • DirtyBathWater

    P2p?? So I can watch the game on my cpu? Im really new at this thing so how do I get access to the game like that?

  • La Milicia Negra


    I recommend you DL 3 players, sopcast, TVU and TVants.. then you will be suited to see most P2P games =)

    I break up the link so it isn’t shown in google searches.. remove the *** and add WWW yourself..


  • DirtyBathWater

    I wouldn’t have too much high expectations on tonights game vs tenn…..we are playing the same team that man handled us on both sides of the ball, yeah we are an improved team overall im just worried about the oline. They know we run the ball well so we can expect them to try and shut it down so the oline and crew will have to put in WORK tonight. Hopefully we get out alive healthy and unscathed

  • La Milicia Negra


    remove *** direct link to the oakland game..

    hope it works for you

  • DirtyBathWater

    Thanks LMN what’s going on we can’t post links on here anymore?

  • ChargersChoke

    I’ve been saying for months that Routt would develop and Hall was not needed, thanks for confirming that Jerry!

  • Morning Nation!! Arte you ready for some RAIDER FOOTBALL!!!