After injuries ravaged the secondary a season ago, the focus of general manager Reggie McKenzie was to solidify the positions this offseason. It does not come as a surprise because head coach Dennis Allen made his name in the NFL as a defensive backs coach. Whether it's safety or cornerback, the Raiders have revamped an area of need this offseason.
Both Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell were supposed to hold together the cornerback position in 2012. They both fell victim to injuries and the secondary as a whole suffered. The Raiders identified the problem and brought in Charles Woodson, Tracy Porter, Mike Jenkins, and resigned Joselio Hanson to ensure depth. When looking at the signings, it becomes clear the Raiders valued players with versatility to move around the secondary and help the team in each area.
“We’ve got to have multiple guys that can go inside and play in the slot,” head coach Dennis Allen said during week three of OTAs. “We’ve got Joselio Hanson that can go in there. Tracy’s another guy that can go in there and play.”
Hanson shined last season taking on multiple roles. He started the season playing inside at the nickle, but was forced to move outside due to injuries. He led the team in fumbles recoveries and tied for the team lead in interceptions. Porter is expected to play that type of role this season as along as he can leave his injury history in the past.
Phillip Adams came on strong toward the end of last season and he resigned with Oakland. He played on the outside, but will have the opportunity to contribute inside this year. First round choice DJ Hayden is out until training camp, but depending on his health, he will be a factor on the outside. Mike Jenkins filled in both outside and inside with the Dallas Cowboys. That gives the Raiders five players who can accommodate different and multiple roles as opposed to the extreme lack of depth last season that was magnified when the team moved Michael Huff from free safety to cornerback.
Cornerback is not the only secondary position the Raiders brought versatility. Despite Charles Woodson entering his 16th season, the former first round pick played some nickle and even outside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. Tyvon Branch has the athleticism to play center field when Woodson moves forward to the line of scrimmage and has the physical tools to play inside the box.
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