The Oakland Raiders took a sledgehammer to last year's defensive line in hopes that 2014 would produce better results. The team brought in veterans like Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, and Antonio Smith to lead the defense and bolster the pass rush. Now that the team has completed a few training camp practices, Smith believes the Raiders have something special on defense.
“We’ve got a heck of a defense,” Smith said. “We got something special here. But whenever you have something special, you always have to have the glue to keep it together. That’s a mind frame you have to build in camp. Once you build that bond as a brother and get that trust going, that’s when you build something special. Even though you got the talent, if you can never play together, you will never be anything.”
That bonding and chemistry will be built in training camp and preseason. With all the new pieces on the defense, it is imperative that they learn how to play together quickly. It will be one of the challenges moving into the regular season. Smith is starting that process of working with his teammates. He missed the offseason workouts with a sports hernia that has since healed. He is back at practice and feeling better.
With Smith healthy, the Raiders' defensive line is coming together. He will be an important part of the defensive line rotation because of his experience and versatility. Smith played defensive end in a 3-4 with the Houston Texans, but will transition to a defensive tackle in Oakland's 4-3 base defense. Despite the different schemes, it will be business as usual for Smith.
“No transition,” Smith said. “I was a 3-technique there, and now I’m a 3-technique here. They call it a different thing, a 3-4 they call it an end, but you still have a 3-technique, which is a tackle, and when you get a 4-3 they just call it a tackle. It’s a good thing for me because I’m playing the same thing I’ve always played, minus a couple double teams here and there.”
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