Position outlook: Defensive end

This is one story in a series of position outlooks pertaining to the Oakland Raiders. Today, here is a look at defensive end:

Looking back: The bad luck continued with Trace Armstrong, who the Oakland Raiders signed as a free agent from Miami to bolster the pass rush in 2001. For the third straight season, however, Armstrong's season ended on injured reserve. This time, it was a shoulder injury that sidelined him.

On the other hand, third-year man DeLawrence Grant went from starting on a Super Bowl team and playing pretty well to fading into oblivion. Grant suited up for 13 games but was invisible on many occasions.

The Raiders gave rookie Tyler Brayton, a first-round draft pick from Colorado, a trial by fire in starting him in all 16 games. Brayton played like you might expect a rookie to play. He took his lumps early and showed improvement as the season progressed.

Akbar Gbaja-Biamila made the team as an undrafted free agent and showed occasional promise. Chris Cooper, who is a valuable swingman played mostly at tackle because of injuries to John Parrella and Dana Stubblefield. The Raiders remain high on third-round draft pick Sam Williams but he played in only one game.

Things were so bad on the injury front that the Raiders picked up Lorenzo Bromell off waivers.

Looking ahead: Wanted. Pass rusher. Armstrong most likely will retire. Brayton might not be Pro Bowl material but he is a player that constantly hustles and at worst should develop into a solid starter.

As for Grant, who knows? He might need a map to find his way back into the Raiders lineup. Gbaja-Biamila has the quickness to prosper as an end. Oakland can only hope that Parrella and/or Stubblefield come back healthy because Cooper could be freed up to split time between end and tackle.

The Raiders will likely continue to give Williams a long look. Bromell is a free agent that Oakland will probably try to keep but not break the bank in doing so.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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