It took 12 weeks of football for the 2017 Oakland Raiders to generate their first interception. But that won’t be the case this year. New defensive coordinator Paul Guenther won’t settle for that, and neither will Raider Nation.
A dynamic defense begins with its personnel, and personnel begins with grueling position battles. The 2018 Raider cornerbacks must improve this season but the question remains, who’ll be doing the legwork?
Gareon Conley, Dexter McDonald, and Antonio Hamilton are back with the team, although Conley has been sidelined with a recent hip injury. Joining the team via free agency is Daryl Worley, Rashaan Melvin, Shareece Wright, Leon Hall and in April’s draft, Oakland selected Nick Nelson in the fourth round.
“I will the tell you the corner job is wide open, it’s wide open, so it’s going to be excited to see who comes to the top of that battle,” Paul Guenther said Sunday.
One sure thing coming into camp that everyone had their eyes on was Gareon Conley. He looked as if he was in excellent shape, impressing and perhaps, finally healthy. Although Conley has shut down corner potential he can’t seem to catch a break. Gareon suffered a hip sprain this past week at camp and is likely to miss the next couple of weeks.
“I don’t know if concerned is the word. I think disappointed is the word,”Gruden said about Conley’s status. “He comes out and starts training camp, he’s in superb shape, he makes a great play and he gets a setback. Hopefully, he comes back sooner than later.”
With Conley’s detrimental injury, the Raiders have to look forward and really blow the doors off this cornerback position battle. As of right now, former Carolina Panther Daryl Worley, and former Indianapolis Colt Rashaan Melvin are assuming first-team reps.
Worley tallied three interceptions, 19 passes defended, two sacks, and 150 tackles in his two seasons with Carolina. On the other hand, Melvin is coming off his best NFL season yet, racking up three interceptions, 13 passes defended, and 36 tackles.
I think the battle will eventually come down to Worley and Melvin, but with a load of veterans and young talent, the jury is still out on this position group.