Raiders Training Camp: Vegas Is Seeing Defensive Improvement

Raiders Training Camp: Vegas Is Seeing Defensive Improvement

Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler aimed at getting younger and more explosively disruptive on defense this offseason. At the conclusion of the seventh practice, there are signs his plan is working. The secondary thus far is showing significant progress throughout training camp in Henderson.

Air Traffic Control At Raiders Training Camp

An influx of talent has given defensive coordinator Patrick Graham more pieces to work with. These moves will (hopefully) improve the defense at key positions and spark hope in the unit. Marcus Epps has been money as a free agent acquisition at safety. The veteran receives praise for his communication on and off the field, and his play has been everything the coaching staff could have dreamt of.

Jakorian Bennett, the Raiders’ fourth-round pick, has been a welcomed breath of fresh air and gives the Raiders a potential starting-caliber cornerback. Al Davis coveted speed, and Bennett has plenty of it. The Maryland product ran a blazing 4.3 flat at the NFL Combine. In drills and coverage, the rookie is putting together an impressive offseason. Perhaps he can seize a starting position before training camp concludes.

More help is on the way

Controlling the point of attack and rushing the passer is a major focus on defense. Ziegler invested two of his top three picks on the defensive line at this year’s NFL Draft. Although Byron Young and Tyree Wilson have yet to take the field, they have prepared themselves mentally for the next level.

Nothing has prevented either from participating in film watching or taking mental reps. Both are inching closer and closer to being ready to go before the Raiders’ Week 1 contest in Denver. Head coach Josh McDaniels told reporters before Wednesday’s practice that both rookies are “day-to-day.”

Once healthy, new defensive line coach Rob Leonard will have two studs to mold. Since taking over in 2022, the Raiders have drafted three defensive tackles and one defensive end. It’s time for some of these guys to step up and show out.

Training Camp Watch

The Raiders hosted former Pro Bowl linebacker Jaylon Smith for a workout Wednesday. If signed, he would be one of two linebackers on this roster that were actual draft picks at some point. Currently, the Raiders have the largest amount of undrafted free agents at linebacker many have ever seen. Darius Harris, Curtis Bolton, Luke Masterson, Robert Spillane, Drake Thomas, and Darien Butler make up 75% of the linebacking depth chart.

Michael Mayer got a “hello rookie moment” by Maxx ‘the Menace’ Crosby on day one of padded practice. Crosby is now the man on defense. He sets the tone on a daily and play-by-play basis — and he knows it. Nate Hobbs is also closing in on his return to the practice field, having recovered from his unfortunate softball injury before camp.

*Top Photo: AP Photo/John Locher, Pool

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