Oakland coach Dennis Allen is reserving judgment when it comes to his team’s pass defense. After consecutive poor performances in the secondary, Allen is still looking for more evidence of any problems.
Charles Woodson agrees it’s still too early to panic, though the eight-time Pro Bowl defensive back clearly doesn’t share the same optimistic view as Allen.
The Raiders’ first-team defense had several issues in their first two preseason games, giving up three touchdowns in four series while starting quarterbacks Matt Cassel of Minnesota and Matt Stafford of Detroit were on the field.
Allen, a former secondary coach as an assistant with New Orleans, downplayed the problems. Oakland’s coach acknowledged two big breakdowns in the coverage during Friday’s 27-26 win over the Lions but said he’s not reading too much into it.
Woodson, the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, feels otherwise.
“You have to read into it a little bit because we started those games slow and allowed teams to go down the field and put up points,” Woodson said Sunday. “As a defense, there’s something into as far as that’s concerned. When we come out in games, we have to be ready to go.”
Oakland’s defense has been anything but ready to go so far.
Stafford engineered touchdown drives on Detroit’s first two possessions, completing 9 of 10 throws for 88 yards. He repeatedly threw to wide-open receivers, including a 28-yard touchdown to Golden Tate, who used a double-move to shake Oakland cornerback Tarell Brown.
The Lions scored again on Stafford’s 4-yard touchdown to wide receiver Kris Durham.
A week earlier in Minnesota, Cassel was nearly flawless while completing 5 of 6 passes for 62 yards. The Vikings ended Cassel’s only series with a touchdown.
“There were plays for us to make and we didn’t make them,” Allen said. “What I don’t want to do, and what I’m not going to do, is … it’s hard to look at a quarter, a quarter and a half of football, and try to project what that’s going to look like for an entire season. I thought we did a good job coming back and making the adjustments.”
Things may get rougher before they get better.
DJ Hayden is recovering from foot surgery. Backup Chimdi Chekwa is nursing a knee injury and is likely to miss the remainder of the preseason, as is key reserve Taiwan Jones.
Hayden has been extremely limited in his rehab. He made one appearance in training camp when he did running drills on the sidelines. Beyond that, the former first-round draft pick hasn’t been able to do anything.
With Hayden out, Brown and Carlos Rogers have taken the majority of reps at cornerback. Rogers slides inside to play the slot on third downs.
“We have a little more time in the preseason to get this down,” Rogers said. “Of course you want to win but at the end of the day it doesn’t go on your record. If you get out there and blown coverages and guys are running wild and through your defense, then it’s a problem.”
Seventh-round draft pick TJ Carrie, buried on the depth chart when camp began, took reps with the first-team defense Sunday while Hayden and Jones watched from the sidelines.
Carrie intercepted a Matt Schaub pass that was tipped by Woodson during a team scrimmage. Carrie later made a nice play to take away Schaub’s primary read – an inside slant pattern by wide receiver Denarius Moore.
The secondary did get some good news.
Backup safety Usama Young practiced for the first time since injuring a quad muscle while taking a conditioning test the day before the Raiders held their first training camp practice.
“We feel confident about who we are as a team and what we’re going to be during the season,” Woodson said. “We’re not circling the wagons or anything like that. We’re going to be all right.”
NOTES: Second-round draft pick Derek Carr attended practice but was held out of all drills while he recovers from a concussion and possible rib injury. Veteran quarterback Trent Edwards got his most extensive work in practice as a result of Carr’s absence. … Third-round draft pick OG Gabe Jackson was leveled by Khalif Barnes during a blocking drill and appeared to hurt his right leg but rejoined practice. … Oakland signed tight end Kyle Auffray, who has been cut by three teams in 15 months. To make room, the team waived kicker Kevin Goessling. … General manager Reggie McKenzie took part in the ALS ice bucket challenge after practice. Wide receiver Andre Holmes and fullback Jamize Olawale dumped the water on McKenzie.