State of the Roster: Sorting Out the Raiders Defense

As the last few days have shown, sorting out the Raiders’ roster will be an exercise in patience this season. Apparently so too is the depth chart.

In a matter of days Quentin Groves went from third string to emerging starter at weakside linebacker thanks to Trevor Scott returning to his original position of defensive end. With the daunting task of stopping the NFL’s top rusher from a year ago looming, the Raiders are making moves to shore up the front seven.

Scott will now join the rotation along the D-line. Trevor will split time at end with Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy while Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly will start with Desmond Bryant and John Henderson spelling both tackle positions throughout the contest.

By returning Scott to end, Groves has the job with the first squad, leaping right over Thomas Howard. Not a good sign for Howard’s prospects of wearing Silver and Black much longer.

Of course, with the way John Marshall will change personnel during the game, there is a good chance of seeing more Ricky Brown than of Groves in Tennessee.  

Strongside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and Rolando McClain, the rookie in the middle, are about the only two members of the linebacking core with a solid grip on their starting roles.

The front seven will be front and center if the Raiders are going to slow the roll of the Titans. The secondary is expected to be the rock of the defense once again this season.

While the front seven features new names and old faces in new places, the secondary is almost identical to the unit that opened the ’09 season.

Stanford Routt is the only new name. His solid preseason performance combined with Chris Johnson’s injury issues and poor play made it all too easy for Routt to be the man pitted with the task of playing opposite Nnamdi Asomugha.

Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff will be the last line of defense rounding out the most athletic secondary in pro football.

With the exceptions of Asomugha, Seymour, Kelly, Branch and Wimbley, no man playing for John Marshall should feel comfortable in their starting role which is a good thing.

Keeping things competitive during the season and constantly giving opponents different looks will only help to improve a run defense that hasn’t had a pulse in seven years.

Just don’t expect to see the same names in the starting lineup each week but you can count on every man under John Marshall’s watch to be ready when their number is called. Just ask Quentin Groves, he’ll tell you as much.

“You’ve just got to tune in and see, right? One game I might be the starter, the next I could be the third-string guy. I just have to come in and prepare myself to be the starter.”

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Tags: Chris Johnson Desmond Bryant John Henderson John Marshall Kamerion Wimbley Lamarr Houston Matt Shaughnessy Michael Huff Nnamdi Asomugha Quentin Groves Richard Seymour Ricky Brown Rolando McClain Stanford Routt Thomas Howard Tommy Kelly Trevor Scott Tyvon Branch

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