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Raiders piecing together secondary

With no sign of Shawntae Spencer as practice got underway Friday, the Raiders went behind closed doors to prepare for life without both of their starting cornerbacks.

Spencer, still in a boot and on crutches Thursday, will likely be declared out today, joining Ron Bartell on the sidelines. Bartell is out with a broken shoulder blade suffered in the season opener.

Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will attempt to piece together a secondary to deal with a Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense which puts great strain on even experienced defensive backfields.

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger does some of his best work against confused secondaries, breaking containment and throwing on the move.

“Our deal is, we’ve got NFL football players and we got to go out and play at a certain level and we hold all our guys accountable at the same level,’’ Allen said.

Exactly how the Raiders will line up is a secret. All Allen will say is that free safety Michael Huff has been working in different spots in the defensive backfield and that it’s a “next man up’’ philosophy.

Huff has played slot corner in the nickel defense before. He was told by the previous staff there was thought given to moving him to cornerback full time. Given the availability of Matt Giordano to fill in at free safety, having Huff on the move makes sense.

While Allen said there was no thought given by the current staff upon arrival for a position change, he said Huff has “speed and athleticism. That’s the biggest thing. You’ve got to be able to run and play out there on the edge and he can certainly do that.’’

Huff, normally a willing and available interview, has made himself scarce during media availability periods this week.

The Raiders’ biggest challenge will be on the two outside corners, given the way Pat Lee and Joselio Hanson struggled last week against Miami and Brian Hartline. Hanson arrived with the reputation of doing his best work as a slot corner.

Phillip Adams and Coye Francies are also cornerbacks on the roster but had only special teams responsibilities against Miami.

Considering the speed and skill of Pittsburgh receivers Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace, Roethlisberger the outside targets, whether it Lee and Hanson or Lee and Huff _ will be inviting.

Tarver was getting his first new look Thursday at cornerback Brandian Ross, claimed off the Packers practice squad, and it seems unlikely he’d have an immediate role.

“I like his movement,’’ Tarver said. “I don’t know much more than that. Reggie and Dennis know a lot more about him than I do. I’m looking forward to working with him.’’

Roethlisberger, in a conference call with Bay Area media, has noticed the difference in defensive philosophy.

“From what I’ve seen, it looks like they have started to throw some more zone coverages, where before it was like they just did a lot of lining up man-to-man and challenged you from that perspective,’’ Roethlisberger said.

– Middle linebacker Rolando McClain was on the field and going through drills with the first team, but cannot play until he has passed all cognitives tests. The Raiders didn’t learn of Jon Condo’s availability last week until Saturday.

Francies, who also had a concussion, was also on the field.

– Tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) was not at practice and will likely be declared “out’’ this afternoon, with Willie Smith filling in as the starter.

– Running back Mike Goodson, who has practiced all week and not been on the injury report, was a spectator on Friday.

- -Fans entering the stadium an hour before kickoff Sunday will be eligible to win prizes such as field passes, locker room tours, autographed memorabilia and Raider merchandise. Check Raiders.com for more details.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • MEX_GHOST

    65.RAIDERMAN99 Says:
    September 21st, 2012 at 1:39 pm
    Had to look aphid up. JFB breaking out the vocabulary.
    —————————–
    LOL, I needed to search twice. WTF is aphid in Spanish, oh well I found it, is Áfido.
    Now, WTF is the meaning of “áfido”.
    Shít, I didn´t find it in the dictionary.

  • Reggie Fangaz

    Without Al Davis, I don’t recognize this team. They wear Raider colors but on the field don’t resemble any Raider team I’ve seen in my 45 years alive, born in Oakland. So my expectations are low right now, as they should be when a team rebuilds from the top down. Real fans know this. Hurts me not to be able to talk much sh:t about my team and Oakland, but when my folks talk crazy I just take it like a man knowing where we are in the rebuilding process that seems to have taken decades. But as long as they are the Oakland Raiders I will represent. Because as long as it says Oakland in front of the Raider, they represent ME.

    I’ve been reading this blog and comments for many years. A lot of you are idiots especially the ones that wished death on Al Davis. And you call yourself Raider fans. I’m just sayin.

  • Raiderjambo

    202. Spot on my friend. I too miss Al. Sure, he had his terrible/ bad moments, but he built this franchise, whether the haters want to admit it or not. He was a football man first, and lived through his beloved RAIDERS. I guess we’re becoming a more get along, nice and friendly franchise, which I guess is norm for todays NFL. I sincerely hope that Reg and DA get this franchise pointing in the right direction. No matter what been a Raider old fart for 32 years, and hope for the next 32 years +, we go out and dominate!

  • Raiderjambo

    Sincerely hope that DA is not the next Shanahan. I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and panic yet, but please just give us RAIDER FANS a glimmer of hope this Sunday, no matter who we are playing. WE ARE THE RAIDERS.

  • qodrn1

    Raider Prediction Board

    Dedicated to Al Davis, Raider duct tape (boy does it hold) and the Coliseum rodents

    Week 1: Alex7: Chargers 27 Raiders 20 (22/14)
    Week 2: R8eray: Dolphins 20 Raiders 13 (35/13)

    303Raider: Raiders 20 Steelers 17
    downsouthraider Says: Raiders 24 Steelers 21 Seabass wins it
    Klas Tjorborn: Steelers 35 Raiders 24
    qodrn: Raiders 24 Pittsburgh 23
    RaiderDanny: Steelers 35 Raiders 10

  • nblack25

    Hopefully they play with some pride!!