Oakland Raiders: Keys To Victory Over Cleveland Browns

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September 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (89) catches a pass against Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden (25) and free safety Charles Woodson (24) during the third quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Ravens 37-33. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Cornerbacks Need a Shot of Confidence

Don’t let the lack of name recognition fool you – Cleveland has some receiving talent on their roster. It may not be among the upper echelons of the NFL, but they have some guys who are fast and can make plays with the ball.

Brian Hartline, Travis Benjamin, and Andrew Hawkins aren’t going to strike fear into the hearts of many, but given the performance of the Raiders’ cornerbacks so far this season, it’s plenty reason enough to be concerned.

The combination of D.J. Hayden, Neiko Thorpe, Travis Carrie, and Keith McGill haven’t done much to inspire a lot of confidence just yet. Of the group, Carrie and Thorpe have turned in the best performances for the Raiders, but even they were victimized repeatedly by Baltimore veteran receiver Steve Smith last week – who went off for 150 yards on the day.

While Hartline, Benjamin, and Hawkins aren’t elite talent, the Raiders defensive backs are going to have to step up their game and shut them down. They can’t afford to play off of the receiver as much as they have been – quarterbacks are throwing very quick passes before they can close that gap, which has led to a number of first downs being given up.

Norton wants his Oakland corners to play like the corners in Seattle. To do that, they’re going to have to be much more physical and in your face. Right now, they’re playing without a lot of confidence and are simply trying to keep the ball in front of them rather than aggressively trying to make a play.

They played better in the second half against Baltimore for the most part. Though there were still some obvious missteps, such as Hayden allowing himself to be picked on a very near touchdown by Smith late in the fourth quarter. But overall, the effort was better.

Oakland’s young corners just need to trust in themselves, trust in their ability, and just go out and make some plays.

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