Training camp preview: defensive backs

The Raiders once again had a large overhaul of their defensive backfield, signing Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers in free agency after they departed the San Francisco 49er’s from across the Bay.

Rogers and Brown were the starting cornerbacks while across the Bay, and that may very well be the case until second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden can recover from his stress fracture in his foot.

Brown has started for the 49er’s during the last three seasons, starting a total of 42 games and totaling 129 tackles, 39 passes defensed and six interceptions.

Rogers started opposite of Brown the last three years for the Niners, totaling 143 tackles, one sack, 33 passes defensed and nine interceptions while starting all 48 games. Rogers will likely be the corner to replace Hayden until he can return. Rogers was originally expected to be signed to be the nickleback.

Hayden struggled for much of his rookie season before missing the final eight games after going on the IR with a groin injury. Hayden finished the season with just 22 tackles, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and one interception. Hayden needs all of the reps he can get, making his latest injury even more costly.

Hayden has already missed the last month of the offseason and it is believed that it takes 4-8 weeks to recover from a surgery for a stress fracture in the foot.

Chimdi Chekwa and rookies T.J. Carrie and Keith McGill may be asked to do more if Hayden can’t bounce back from the latest injury. Though McGill is expected to start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list with Hayden. Chekwa has appeard in 22 games after being drafted in 2011, totaling 35 tackles and two passes defensed.

The Raiders also have Chance Casey, Jansen Watson, Neiko Thorpe and special teams ace Taiwan Jones as corners on the roster.

The Silver & Black will benefit from getting a healthy strong safety Tyvon Branch back this year. Branch missed nearly all of last year after going out with a leg injury in the second game of the season.

Branch has been a key piece of the Raiders defense and losing him last year was a big blow. Each year he has started all 16 games, Branch has recorded 100+ tackles. In his 72 games played, Branch has totaled 446 tackles, seven sacks, 19 passes defensed and four interception.

Having Branch back will also benefit Charles Woodson, who was asked to do a lot in his first year back with the Silver & Black. With Branch back, Woodson will be able to roam center field a little more and become more of a playmaker.

The Raiders also have veteran Usama Young back and drafted safety Jonathan Dowling, is a lanky safety with playmaking capabilities. Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders front office did a solid job of building more depth in their defensive backfield, but they’ll need Hayden to be healthy and continue to develop.


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