In less than three weeks, the Oakland Raiders will be on the field for their 2013 training camp. With the move to acquire Charles Woodson and pair him with Tyvon Branch, the Raiders have promise at the safety position.
Branch should benefit drastically from playing with Woodson. All of the 15 year veteran's knowledge, experience, and success can be passed to Branch. Branch is already one the team's best defenders. He has started every game but two in four years. The two he missed came last season when he battled an ankle injury. He still managed to finish third on the team with 94 tackles. He was slightly less effective than he had been in previous years, but that had to do with the revolving door at cornerback due to injuries. Branch will look to bounce back this season and return to form as a game changer for the Raiders.
Reggie Smith will battle behind Branch to make the final roster. The former third round pick of the San Francisco 49ers signed with the Raiders in April. Smith did not play in 2012, after being one of the final cuts for the Carolina Panthers. The previous two seasons with the 49ers he played in every game and in 2012 he made seven starts. For the Raiders, he will be used on special teams and as a backup to both safety positions if necessary.
Branch and Woodson together as the back line of defense for the Raiders brings excitement. It will take some time for both to acclimate to how the other likes to play, but once they gel, the Raiders defense should improve.
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