Training camp preview: defensive line

The Raiders revamped their defensive line greatly this offseason after struggling to apply pressure last year with just the defensive line.

Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders front office let Lamarr Houston bolt off to the Chicago Bears via free agency, but replaced him by signing veterans Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley.

Tuck and Woodley are two strong defensive pieces that also provide versatility for Jason Tarver’s defense. Tuck has experience being kicked inside on passing downs, while Woodley has experience playing in a 3-4 and 4-3.

The Raiders also expect to receive help from rookie Khalil Mack, who the team drafted fifth overall in May’s NFL draft. Though Mack is listed as a linebacker on the roster, Mack is a strong pass rusher and should be able to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks consistently.

After losing defensive tackle Vance Walker to free agency, the Raiders were able to retain Pat Sims for a second season. Sims played all 16 games last season and finished with 41 tackles and two sacks.

Veteran defensive lineman Antonio Smith is expected to be a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the defensive line. Smith, who made the Pro Bowl in 2012, has played in 140 games (117 starts) and registered 324 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries and nine passes defensed.

Second-year defensive tackle Stacy McGee figures to play a part in the rotation after appearing in 15 games last year (five starts). As a rookie, he totaled 20 tackles and .5 a sack.

The Raiders also added an intriguing defensive tackle via the draft when the selected Justin “Jelly” Ellis in the fourth round. Jelly is a big-bodied defensive tackle that has the potential to clog up the middle while occupying blockers and walling off running lanes. It will be interesting to see how Ellis plays into the Raiders defensive tackle rotation.

Also along the Raiders defensive line will be DE C.J. Wilson, DT Torell Troup, DE Ryan Robinson, DT Ricky Lumpkin, rookie DE Shelby Harris, DE Jack Crawford and DE Denico Autry.

The Raiders’ offseason moves have given them a nice mix of veterans to go along with a young core for some decent depth.

SB Report Top Stories