Oakland Defensive Tackles: Expect Them To Step Up

brien dixonContributor IJuly 2, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 28:  Tommy Kelly #93 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the game against the San Diego Chargers on September 28, 2008 at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

With four weeks left until the 2009 commencement of training camp in Napa begins for the Oakland Raiders, many outside and inside the Raider world are wondering what the expensive contracts of its defensive "big uglies" will bring for he upcoming season.

Negative spew ran like water on many fan sites when the Raiders refused to select a defensive tackle in this past draft. With the big turnaround as far as the defensive coaching staff goes, there is a high chance the Raiders may have this one right.

Currently, the roster has five defensive tackles who will be responsible for doing the dirty work in Oakland.

Improved play from these players is mandatory for success on the defensive side of the ball.

Tommy Kelly

Reading the various web pages on the Internet, one has to be almost disgusted with how Raider supporters are down on this guy.

Kelly was coming off a rough ACL injury from 2007 and still remained healthy in 2008. The year started slowly for the big guy out of Mississippi State, but as the year went on his play steadily improved.

Many don't understand how much difficulty is involved when recovering from a major knee injury. Only a select few come back the following year with Pro Bowl numbers.

Yes, the big contract rings the loudest and Al Davis proposes the pay scale, but 2009 will give a better chance for viewers to determine whether the move was good or bad.

Tommy Kelly has played every spot on the defensive line and his versatility will earn him proper recognition this season.

Terdell Sands

The Raiders haven't had a real dominant nose tackle since Sam Adams in 2002. Sands was believed to be that guy in 2007 after signing a nice contract (Al Davis move) following a productive 2006 season.

Since then his play has been lackluster and inconsistent. Word from OTAs has hipped outsiders to Terdell's sudden weight loss. Meet him in person and it will be obvious a change has occurredthat has to please the entire Raider staff.

Some of the quickness from 2006 should be back and the new Defensive Coordinator, Jim Marshall, will devise a scheme conducive to his players' success.

Look for Sands to be the starter attracting double teams that will finally allow Tommy Kelly to face single blocking and live up to his contract.

Gerard Warren

First, there is no disrespect for Gerard Warren.

His talents are appreciated and needed for a successful season in Oakland. Starting at nose tackle needs to never be a thought again.

The guy is an under tackle in the same mold as Tommy Kelly. Being the third DT is nothing to hang your head about as he will get plenty of snaps this season.

On obvious passing downs Warren sure can be effective creating pressure up the middle against opposing QBs. Too many times last year I saw Warren play the run as a perpetrator and not stay home to take up two blockers.

That led to Kelly getting double-teamed and the linebackers pummeled in the run game.

William Joseph/Ryan Boschetti

One of the more interesting battles will be for the fourth tackle this season.

Hopefully fans are done wiping the vomit from their shorts, remembering having three DTs for most of 2008, with Fred Wakefield playing both sides of the ball on the line.

William Joseph hasn't lived up to his first round draft status from a few years ago and was cut before last season began by the Raiders only to be brought back later in the year.

Ryan Boschetti knows Coach Cable from his UCLA days and is known as a steady guy against the run. There is a possibility the Raiders keep both guys since the D-line has suffered lately.

I have high expectations for this unit since the additions to the coaching staff from the Seattle franchise.

Signing Greg Ellis as the left defensive end will make life easier for Tommy Kelly and company.

Also do not forget the inevitable emergence of Trevor Scott as the right defensive end to help create more havoc on teams.


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