After a long eight months, the new NFL season is here. The Oakland Raiders had a busy eight months as they made massive changes to the structure of the team.
On defense, there are changes at every position. The Raiders have a new set of starting linebackers, new defensive linemen, and a new starting corner opposite Nnamdi Asomugha.
The D-line has moved Richard Seymour to the inside and put Jay Richardson on the IR after he was waived. The new ends will be second year Matt Shaugnessy and second-round rookie Lamarr Houston. Tommy Kelly is the only starter from last year to be in the same spot.
The linebackers have had the most changes. Captain Kirk's ship has sailed to Jacksonville and Thomas Howard and Ricky Brown are on the bench. Quentin Groves has taken over for Trevor Scott on the weak side, Kamerion Wimbley is the strong side, and the eighth pick in the draft, Rolando McClain, is in the middle.
In the defensive backfield, Chris Johnson will be replaced by Stanford Routt. Nnamdi Asomugha will be used more to cover top receivers instead of the left sideline. Safeties Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch are still the "back-stop" for the little league run defense that can't hit the running backs, or baseballs.
Hopefully, they will no longer be the back-stop. With seven new starters (counting Seymour's move to tackle) the Raiders have high hopes for their defense, particularly with the run.
Week 1 is here, and on Sunday the Raiders will have the test of Chris Johnson, followed by Steven Jackson in Week 2.
Al Davis compared this team to the 1980 Raiders who were considered "also-rans" and became Super Bowl Champions. That team also had a makeover as they changed 15 starters in the offseason! Let's all hope that they also share the results of an offseason makeover.