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Oakland Raiders: Upgraded Defense Pays Big Dividends

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Oakland Raiders: Upgraded Defense Pays Big Dividends
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It might be only preseason (which doesn't count for much in the real world), but the Oakland Raiders reaped the benefits of a vastly upgraded defensive front seven against the Dallas Cowboys in Texas Stadium last night.

Tom Cable said at the end of the 2009 season that the Raiders had to address "line of scrimmage issues", referring to both the offensive and defensive lines.

He is as good as his word.

Not in living memory have we seen a Raiders defensive line perform so well and dominate a game like that. Rookie Lamarr Houston led the charge with two sacks of Tony Romo, and what was more impressive than that was that both came early against starting tackle Marc Colombo.

Showing impressive athleticism for his 304 lbs., Houston out-hustled and out-muscled Dallas's starting right tackle. He showed that he was not just a training camp wonder, but a player who really can walk the walk when it comes to game time.

With Lamarr Houston, Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, and impressive sophomore Matt Shaughnessy, Oakland has their best defensive line since the glory days of the mid-1980s.

They racked up six sacks on the night, and their performance bodes well for the coming season.

For many years, the Raiders tried to build their defense from the secondary, spending first round picks on players such as Fabian Washington, Derrick Gibson, Philip Buchanon, and Michael Huff. Not surprisingly, they consistently were amongst the worst teams in the league in run defense.

Now that they have made some real investment in their defensive front seven, they are seeing the results. Since the Richard Seymour trade last year, they have added Houston and Rolando McClain in the draft, traded Kamerion Wimbley, and signed John Henderson in free agency.

The difference in this defensive unit was clear as they kept the Cowboys out of the end zone and limited the normally powerful Dallas running game to 66 yards on 22 carries.

The offense might take a few more weeks to get on track, but this defense is already looking up to the job.

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