NAPA — Dan Williams was a 15-game starter for the Raiders last season at defensive tackle.
But as the team hits its first off day of training camp Tuesday, Williams continues to get his work with the second-team defense. Coach Jack Del Rio said he’s seeing what he needs to from the seventh-year pro.
“Dan is doing good, working hard,” Del Rio said. “He’s doing everything he needs to do.”
But the player who is earning $7.35 million this year isn’t currently in line to be a starter in a base defense that continues to show a 5-2 look.
Instead, that has been Justin Ellis, the Raiders’ fourth-round pick from 2014 who has started 23 games in his own right the past two years.
“Thus far, we as a staff think that Jelly is ahead of Dan, but we’re a long way from lining it up in September,” Del Rio said, referring to Ellis by his nickname.
“Competition brings out the best. Right now, as we’re stacking up our practices, Jelly is a little bit ahead.”
Ellis is coming off a season in which an ankle injury cost him four games. He finished with 22 tackles. Williams had a career-high 48 tackles last year in his first season with the Raiders after playing the previous five in Arizona.
How their playing time shakes down in the regular season remains to be seen, but the Raiders have yet to show the packages they displayed last season with both big bodies plugging up the middle at the same time. Either way, Del Rio knows both will have a role on the defense.
“They’re all going to play,” he said, “it’s just a matter of who gets to trot out first.
“We’re going to use all of the talent we have and we like to play all of our guys. Keep them fresh. We’re going to count on both of those guys to play big for us this year and play a lot for us this year, but who rolls out first? We’ll see. It’s competitive.”