Oakland Raider Training Camp Focus: The Defensive Line

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IAugust 16, 2010

Oakland Raider Training Camp Focus: The Defensive Line

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    Now this is an intimidating defensive tackle! Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly are looking to stuff the run and collapse the pocket this year. They will have help in diong so.

    With five sacks in the first half, the defensive line showed a lot of promise on Thursday night. They also didn't leave too much in the way of running lanes for the vaunted Cowboy running game.

    The Cowboys are having issues at the left tackle position but only two of the five first half stats came from over the left tackle position.The entire Raider defensive line looked like a murderers row on a mission.

    It really makes me wonder how much of the elephant scheme the Raiders will need as they got there with four on Thursday night. It looked like good old fashioned Howie Long, Lyle Alzado, Bill Pickel, Reggie Kinlaw, and third down pass-rush specialist Greg Townsend out there.

    This is a deep unit that continued to harass the quarterback when the second came in. The run was still shut down when they came in as well.

    It was as if the great wall of Raider Nation had been formed.

    I understand this was a preseason game but the Raiders had three sacks in the opening drive. That means the starters were still in the game and they're trying their best to protect Tony Romo.

    With the unit playing like this, it will be hard to make the team on the defensive line this year.

    Turn the page to see how the defensive line is shaking out so far.

Lamarr Houston

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    Lamarr Houston rushes the passer in minicamp.

    Lamarr Houston may very well be the steal of the draft. He went into the draft as a defensive tackle and slid to the Raiders in the second round despite outproducing Gerald McCoy in college.

    Houston also went on to outshine McCoy in the combine. This physical freak has a huge chip on his shoulder and has done nothing but disrupt his own offense in camp.

    Upon Houston's arrival, the Raiders saw use for his speed and power at defensive end and moved him there. Houston has so far proven the Raiders right by being a nuisance to the run game and getting two sacks in their preseason game vs the Cowboys.

    No wonder why Seymour couldn't wait to get to camp.

    He wanted to show Houston how to be that disruptive force at base end. He could then kick inside to defensive tackle where he is most comfortable.

    The results have been awesome so far!

Matt Shaughnessy

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    Matt Shaughnessy gets a laugh while taking a breather during a practice session.

    Matt Shaughnessy was a nice addition to the Raiders with his five sacks in limited duty last year. They made room for him by moving fellow future star Trevor Scott to outside linebacker.

    Shaughnessy is now the man at right defensive end this year.

    Shaughnessy has made good on his opportunity so far. He has been disruptive in camp and chipped himself on Thursday night with two sacks.

    While the attention is on the other Raider defensive lineman, look for Shaughnessy to surprise this year.

Tommy Kelly

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    Tommy Kelly wants the ball to come his way.

    Tommy Kelly has been an enigma since getting his big contract with the Oakland Raiders. While he is blamed by some for the porous Raider run defense in recent years, he is among the league leaders in tackles at his position.

    Then when Kelly is doubled, the running play is easily successful by opposing teams. Richard Seymour was brought in last year but that wasn't enough.

    This year, Rolando McClain is the middle linebacker and Lamarr Houston has come to Raider Nation. Kelly will have a breakout season this year while having good dance partners.

    Kelly will have to do it from the other side this year as Seymour takes over the three technique spot. Three tackles in Thursday night's preseason opener tells you he has made the change successfully.

    He will noticeably earn his pay check this year.


Richard Seymour

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    Richard Seymour puts the moves on Khalif Barnes in camp.

    I am looking for Richard Seymour to have a breakout season.

    A perennial Pro Bowler with a breakout season?

    Maybe not but a career best season.

    I predict the first double-digit season in sacks of his career this year.

    Seymour plans to try on the three technique for size and so far it fits very well. The man is just too quick and explosive for any guard in the NFL and will get up the field as he did on Thursday night.

    Seymour is also tough against the run.

    He actually should have played there last year.

    Thursday night showed that it isn't too late!

    Good luck left guards of the NFL!

John Henderson

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    John Henderson shedding blockers as usual.

    "Big" John Henderson still has some good football left in him. He may not have the pass-rush ability he once had but he is still an effective run stuffer.

    He will give the Raiders excellent depth at the nose.

    When he went into the game on Thursday night, the Cowboys still couldn't run inside. I don't think any other team will be able to either when he's in the game.

    He will be spectacular on the goal line!

Desmond Bryant

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    Desmond Bryant awaits the next play in camp.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Desmond Bryant is a surprise Ivy-Leaguer from Harvard.

    He had 32 tackles last year in very limited duty.

    He had as many tackles as many full-time starters at the defensive tackle position. He is another of the youngsters that stands to learn a lot from veteran Richard Seymour.

    He looked good one Thursday with a tackle for a loss.

    I feel so funny saying that the Raiders have depth at the defensive tackle position.

Kellen Heard

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    Kellen Heard taking instruction from Defensive Line Coach Mike Wauffle

    At 6'7, 340 pounds, Kellen Heard is a huge man with a nasty streak.

    He is also very strong and athletic for his size.

    However, he has much to learn and plenty around him to teach him. John Henderson and Richard Seymour have been there to help Heard learn the ropes so far.

    Heard actually looked pretty good Thursday night but there is lots of depth in front of him at this time. I believe he is still going to make the team as a project.

    He should at least be on our practice squad.

    I'd hate to see him develop for another team.

Trevor Scott

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    Trevor Scott is a starter at outside linebacker for the Raiders but he was at defensive end on third downs on Thursday night.

    Scott is a pass-rush specialist with 12 sacks in his first two years in limited duty. 

    He ended up with a sack for his efforts on Thursday night.

    If the Raiders indeed run the elephant scheme, who know where he will be coming from and when.

    The man will be one to watch for the Raiders in 2010. 



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    I see no more prospects for the defensive tackle position at this time. Defensive ends Chris Cooper and Jay Richardson look to be on the bubble for making the team.

    Cooper did end up with a sack on Thursday out of a three man rush. Richardson did not play because of an injury he came up with in camp.

    Make or break time is coming soon for Richardson as it is.

    With or without them, the defensive line is now one of the strength of the team an could possibly lead the Raiders to a top 10 defense.

    Thursday night, they looked kike they could be a to five defense.

    It will be interesting to see if they can play that well against starters for 60 minutes.

    I don't like to get into Raider hate because I'm a football guy but here is something interesting.

    The Raiders had six sacks Thursday night and the Cowboys had one. (Three on the first drive) 

    The Raiders had seven tackles for a loss and the Cowboys had three.

    The Raiders ran the ball for 128 yards with a 4.3 yard average.

    The Cowboys ran the ball for 66 yard and a 3.0 average.

    Why is it that all Teddy Bruschi can talk about on NFL Live on Friday was how dominant the Cowboy front seven looked?

    I'm not sayin'.

    I'm just sayin'.