Raiders still need pass rush help

The Raiders have almost completed a major overhaul to their defense but look for Oakland to continue to seek out additional help for their defensive line, particularly at defensive end where the team's pass rush was almost non-existent last season.

Starters Regan Upshaw and Tony Bryant combined for just 11.5 sacks a year ago. Eight other players in the NFL had more than that by themselves. The Raiders were only middle of the road as a team, ranking 12th in the league with 41 sacks. But of those 41 sacks, almost a third came from linebackers and defensive backs.

Oakland is hoping the return of defensive end Trace Armstrong will help. Armstrong led the AFC in sacks in 2000 but missed the majority of 2001 with an Achilles injury. But Armstrong turns 37 in October and will be used primarily on third downs, which could limit his effectiveness. That's if he even is ready to play. While all indications are that he is on schedule with his rehabilitation, Armstrong was kept out of the majority of drills at the Raiders mini-camp in April and probably won't be ready to go full strength until the start of training camp in July.

Oakland did sign John Perella off the free agent market, but Perella's specialty is run defense. He's not likely to give them the push up front against the pass that the Raiders need.

There's talk that Oakland would like to get its hands on defensive tackle Sam Adams, but for now Adams' asking price is too rich for the Raiders blood. Unless he's willing to lower his price, it's not likely that Adams will be playing for the Silver and Black in 2002.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, there isn't much out there on the free agent market in terms of pass-rushing defensive ends. What little quality there was available has already been snatched up, leaving Oakland to scavenger among the likes of Cedric Jones of the Rams, who would be a decent addition but still isn't a serious pass-rushing threat.

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