The Oakland Raiders took on the Seattle Seahawks in what was a defensive battle for much of the preseason finale on Thursday night.
The Raiders defense came to play, holding the Seahawks scoreless for the first half -- largely due to the play of some of their young defensive linemen.
"I thought that some guys on our d-line showed up," head coach Jack Del Rio said. "Denico [Autry] had a really good game tonight. Shilique [Calhoun] and [Darius] Latham in the back field a lot."
Third-year defensive lineman Denico Autry was a force to be reckoned with in the backfield all night, recording five tackles for a loss including one sack. He also got his hands up for a pass defensed at the line of scrimmage, while leading the team with six total tackles.
Autry missed part of training camp with a left-hand injury but has the potential to be a key contributor on the Raiders defense, especially while Mario Edwards, Jr. is out with his hip injury.
The Raiders selected defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun in the third round hoping that he could come in and contribute on defense right away. He's looked strong during training camp and it has continued into the games. The former Michigan State pass rusher recorded another sack Thursday night.
"The tackle kind of blocked down and I saw an opportunity," Calhoun said of the play. "I took it and I know the coaches are helpful in saying 'If you have it, take it.'"
The sack put him in the team-lead for preseason sacks with two. He also added another two quarterback hurries and recording three tackles.
Calhoun has progressed nicely and developed into a valuable contributor for the Raiders defense.
"Week one, I was just still dazed and confused trying to understand the defense, and now going into this fourth preseason game, I understand things a lot better and that goes along with having great veterans to help you understand how each and everyday kind of breaks down," Calhoun said of his development.
Defensive tackle Darius Latham went undrafted out of the Indiana University but is playing big for the Raiders. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound lineman was dominant against the Seahawks, finishing with five tackles and one tackle for a loss where he swallowed up the ball carrier in the backfield.
Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin and the rest of the defensive coaching staff have done phenomenal job developing young linemen for the Raiders, and it appears they've found a few more if they can continue to build on Thursday's solid game.
Now, the young pass rushers are ready to take it to the games that mean something in the win-loss columns, starting with the season opener against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 11.
"Every game counts, but this one will stick on the record," Calhoun said. "It is not a preseason game and it is one of those that means the most. If you want to make it to the playoff, or the Super Bowl or whatever, you have to start with this game. This game will be as important as the last so it's time to go ahead and get out there."