Oakland Raider Training Camp Focus: The Defensive Backs
The Oakland Raider defensive backfield has been the strength of the team for years. 2010 will be no exception as the unit might have gotten even stronger
The unit has a perennial Pro Bowl corner still in his prime and there is a perennial Pro Bowler in waiting at the strong safety position.
The free safety on this unit is immensely talented and had the bulb go off last year. Then, there is a solid corner on the other side that has competition nipping at his heels.
There has also been some interesting draft pick added, so turn the page to see how this unit is shaking out so far.
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB
Nnamdi Asomugha is the best corner in the league period.
If you don't agree, somebody done told you wrong!
Arguing about Asomugha vs Revis is another article, so let's talk about what he does for the Raiders. Last year, Asomugha found life in his fast lane to be real lonely.
He was thrown at less than any corner in the NFL.
This year, the Raiders plan to do something a little different. The plan for 2010 is to let Asomugha follow the best opposing receiver into the stands if he goes there.
It means he will always line up on the opposing teams best receiver.
Now, that will put a big monkey wrench in opposing team's game plans.
Chris Johnson, CB
Chris Johnson is coming off of an off year in which he battled a knee injury. He looks to be back to his 2008 form so far in training camp.
Before you talk about the catch he gave up to Miles Austin on Thursday night, consider a few things.
One, the coverage was outstanding on that play. Two, that is Miles Austin and Tony Romo.
Then, if you look at the throw and catch, those two things always beat good coverage.
He is supposed to be locked in a heated battle for his job. Perhaps as we get to see more of Routt vs the opposing ones, we'll know more of how things will shake out there.
Johnson has had the better camp so far.
Stanford Routt, CB
Tom cable has recently spoken of how Stanford Routt has made up his mind to be an NFL corner.
He told Steve Corkran of the Oakland Tribune, "There's been a change in Stan in terms of how he works and the intensity that he works at it with. It's just like everybody, you want to see it carry over to the game, but I've been very pleased with him thus far."
Routt has looked good in camp, but I don't see where he is that much of a threat to Johnson's job now.
But who knows, your only a bad or good day away from moving on the depth chart.
Walter McFadden, CB
Many in Raider Nation thought of Walter McFadden as a late round gem when he was drafted.
He may well be.
He's been using those 4.37 wheels pretty well in coverage so far. Routt could have very well raised his level to compete with Johnson when he saw McFadden nipping at his heels.
McFadden does look pretty good so far, but it looks like the late round gem thing will have to wait a while.
Jeremy Ware Corner
Jeremy Ware is a fast and physical corner that Al Davis found in the late rounds out of Michigan. He looked good against the Dallas backups, but he is a developmental guy.
He may see a little action this year, but let's see where he is in the next couple of years.
Michael Huff, FS
Michael Huff appears to be poised for another great season after last year's breakout season.
The man is not short on talent, but he was badly misused at the beginning of his NFL career. After a year of readjustment, Huff had three interceptions in 2009 and is looking for more in 2010.
His ability to cover makes it interesting to see how many corners the Raiders will keep.
Tyvon Branch, SS
Last year was a breakout season for Tyvon Branch. With the exception of the interception category, he was statistically on par with strong safeties like Troy Polamalu at his best.
As it is, he led all strong safeties in tackles last year and shut down tight ends.
I believe this is the year Branch grabs a few INTs on the way to his first Pro Bowl.
Mike Mitchell, SS
Mike Mitchell is a big hitting, Youtube sensation that many say Davis "reached" for in the second round in 2009.
There's only one way to find out.
Play the man!
Right now, he is struggling in coverage at the strong safety position. Perhaps he should be moved to free safety where he can just roam and hit.
Raider Nation can use a player reminiscent of Jack Tatum right about now.
Besides, Huff is the second best cover guy on the team.
Stevie Brown Free Safety
Stevie Brown is quickly becoming a coaches favorite, and it's not because he brings donuts to the coaches.
I'm sure he does enough of that for veteran players.
It's because he makes plays.
He made an interception late in Thursday night's game against the Cowboys. Jerome Boyd took one back to the house that night, but it is Brown that has been doing it consistently though out camp.
He has even taken reps with the ones lately.
That spells the end of Hiram Eugene in Raider Nation. He hasn't shown enough signs of getting it since coming to Raider Nation and he isn't a first rounder.
The Raiders now have depth at free safety.
I can't see anyone else creeping in here, so I hope you enjoyed the slide show.