Oakland Raiders: Notes And Observations From The Preseason

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Aug 22, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Benson Mayowa (95) congratulates defensive lineman Shelby Harris (75) after his hit on the quarterback in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Minnesota Vikings beat the Oakland Raiders 20-12. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Front Better Than Expected

Given the offseason additions, most expected that the Raiders’ defensive front was going to be better in 2015 than it was last season. The 2014 version certainly left a lot to be desired as players like Antonio Smith, LaMarr Woodley, and Miles Burris did nothing but get pushed around all game long.

But with the additions of veterans like Dan Williams, Curtis Lofton, and Malcolm Smith, along with the return of of Ray Ray Armstrong – a mid-season acquisition last year – who has been stellar this offseason and throughout the exhibition season, added to a defensive front that includes Justin Tuck, Justin Smith, and Khalil Mack has given the Raiders a powerful and ferocious defensive front.

And even Mario Edwards Jr., who was a controversial second round draft pick, given his lack of pass rushing skills in college, has begun growing into the position. Though he got physically beat up against the Rams in his first game – Edwards cited his rookie jitters and that he was still getting acclimated to the speed of the pro game – he has improved each and every week. He made some really great plays against the Vikings in the second game, and was absolutely dominant in game three against the Cardinals.

Oakland’s defensive front, though most admitted would be superior to last season’s version, has been even better than expected. It’s been ferocious, disruptive, and has been at times, flat out dominant. Their tackling has been solid, they’ve combined for ten sacks, and have made life very uncomfortable for opposing quarterbacks.

Though most knew they’d be solid against the run, given their improvements, and they have been, this Raiders’ defensive front has been even better than expected as a pass rushing group. They need to be absolutely dominant to help cover the deficiencies elsewhere on the defense.

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