By LaDonna Williams
Last year the Raiders defense wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. They did just enough to get by. Their biggest problem was their pass defense and overall play by the secondary. Their run defense wasn’t the greatest, but they couldn’t stop the passing game either. There was no wonder the defense ended up ranked 22nd in the league.
Now the 2016-2017 season is upon us and their defense has changed and changed for the better. The biggest loss is Charles Woodson who retired this season. Woodson was truly one of the best at his position. They did add some key players to their roster that will help the defense improve this season.
In March, the Raiders added former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin to their roster. Irvin started 12 games and had 38 tackles, 22 solo tackles and had 5.5 sacks. Irvin joins Khalil Mack to create an impressive pass rush. The Raiders also needed to replace Woodson, so the Raiders added former Bengals safety Reggie Nelson. Nelson, who was tied with Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters with eight interceptions last season. He was ranked fifth out of all safeties in the league.
The Raiders also drafted well, adding several players to help their defense. They drafted safety Karl Joseph from West Virginia, defensive lineman Jihad Ward from Illinois, and two linebackers Shilique Calhoun from Michigan State and Cory James from Colorado State. The Raiders are hoping with the addition of Nelson and Joseph they will be able to cover and shut down tight ends. Last year tight ends scored 12 touchdowns against them.
They already had on the team All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack. Mack, who just had an amazing second year in the league. He had two forced fumbles and 15 sacks. With these new additions to the team the Raiders defense shouldn’t be slept on this coming up season.
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