ALAMEDA — The Raiders defense hopes to leave a better first impression when it faces the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.
Oakalnd was ramshackled a week ago on its opening possession when the Green Bay Packers marched down on a 14-play touchdown drive. Eddie Lacy had 45 yards on nine carries.
Now the Raiders get a crack at the Titans, who through the first two weeks of exhibition games were second only to the 49ers in rushing, gaining 192.0 yards per game.
“They’re running the ball as well as anybody in the league right now so it’ll be a good test for our defense,” coach Jack Del Rio said.
Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was ready and waiting for questions about how his unit performed in Green Bay, letting out a chuckle as the inquiry came in.
“We played a good team,” Norton said of the Packers. “They’re a playoff team, they’ve been really good for a long time. It’s good for us to go up against teams that have been pretty good and at the same time match up to see where we stand.”
The Raiders have designs on being a good team themselves, one that’s physical and tough in the trenches. That’s why they’re looking forward to facing the Titans and their potent rushing attack.
DeMarco Murray, at 6-foot, 217 pounds, is coming off a disappointing season in Philadelphia but still just two years removed from leading the NFL in rushing yards.
Whatever early carries he doesn’t get should go to Derrick Henry, the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Heisman Trophy-winning back from Alabama.
Norton and the defense are glad they’ll be quickly challenged again, not only by Murray and Henry, but by another Heisman winner in Titans second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota.
“You want to be tested,” Norton said. “We’ll see how good we are and our run fits and our energy and effort, our ability to play a mobile quarterback, because you have to be good against the run, you have to certainly contain your quarterback and you have to play good solid ball.”
The Raiders struggled against the Packers to fill the appropriate running lanes from the second level and got pushed away at the line of scrimmage. The starters settled down and played well the rest of the first half, but by then Lacy was watching from the sidelines.
“We got out there, didn’t get off to a fast start like we wanted to and they took advantage of it,” linebacker Ben Heeney said. “They were running a lot of downhill runs and a lot of outside runs. At first we just couldn’t stop it, but we made adjustments and that’s what we had to do. I think we were pretty good after that.”
Malcolm Smith said the defense needs to be more mentally prepared.
“In certain areas, we were a little too overagressive and overplaying things,” Smith said. “We’ve just got to settle ourselves and get our feet right.”