Run defense still a major concern

Through the first two preseason games, it's abundantly clear the Raiders' problems stopping the run from a year ago haven't gone away. In fact, one could argue the situation is even worse. Find out what head coach Tom Cable and linebacker Thomas Howard have to say about the situation in S&BI's Training Camp update.

For the second straight week the Raiders couldn't muster much of a run defense, allowing the San Francisco 49ers to pile up 275 yards on the ground. Rookie Glen Coffee led the charge with 129 yards on 16 carries while unheralded backup Michael Robinson added 97 yards on 14 carries.

Coming on the heels of the preseason-opening win over Dallas when Oakland gave up 127 yards on the ground, most of them to a pair of virtually unknown backs, it's a situation that has the Raiders concerned as the start of the regular season looms around the corner.

"I don't know if you are going to sell the farm and move but there is definitely concern, definitely things we have to clean up, no doubt," weakside linebacker Thomas Howard said. "Things need to change. Things must be cleaned up. It's not that the runs were difficult. I mean, you knew what was coming.

"We are going to address it. The veteran guys were over there talking during the game trying to figure out how we can clean this up. Things have to be cleaned up."

The Raiders haven't finished better than 22nd against the run since 2002 and were 31st in 2008. Yet for a unit that was so bad _ they allowed 159.7 yards per game on the ground last season _ the team did absolutely nothing to address their shortcomings in the offseason, instead focusing most of its attention on the offense.

With no changes in personnel, the results on the field _ at least so far _ have been the same.

"I thought we had some guys not play very well," head coach Tom Cable said Sunday. "We have to do a better job adjusting to it as coaches, and then I think you have to at some point set your jaw and decide you're not going to get your rear-end kicked like that."

The problem is that time is running out to get the issue under control. The regular-season opener against San Diego is only a few weeks away, meaning it will be a season-long problem unless something changes … and fast.

"It was basically one person getting cut out of the gap or something like that," linebacker Jon Alston said. "These are small things that we have to work on and make ourselves better as a team so these things don't happen and these busts don't occur. When you play good ground game everybody should be on the same page."

Other news and notes from Sunday:

-- Linebacker Kirk Morrison is expected to be out at two weeks while recovering from a dislocated elbow he suffered in the 49ers game. Morrison and Ricky Brown, who had a big interception and return against San Francisco, had been engaged in a camp-long battle for the middle linebacker spot.

Cable said Morrison, who should be back for the season-opener, was the leader in the competition before getting hurt.

-- QB JaMarcus Russell missed two potential touchdown throws but still impressed Oakland's coaching staff with his ability to move the offense.

"JaMarcus has improved," Cable said. "He missed two throws last night which really would have been a big, big night for him because one would have been for I think a touchdown for sure. He'll learn from that. I think he's fortunate he is getting better. He's progressing the way you want him to."

-- Rookie tight end Brandy Myers, who caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Bruce Gradkowski in the second quarter and finished with four receptions for 75 yards, suffered a bruised quad in the game that isn't thought to be serious.

-- Running back Justin Fargas strained a hamstring muscle and is questionable to practice and play this week.

-- Punter Shane Lechler did not play against San Francisco due to a sore groin. No word on how long he may be out.


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