Oakland Raiders 2015 Preview: Playmakers forming defensive identity

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August 30, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) during the third quarter in a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals at O.co Coliseum. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Malcolm Smith

Under the Raiders’ 4-3 under elephant scheme, Malcolm Smith lines up like a 3-4 inside linebacker. And in that scheme, there’s usually a thumper inside linebacker that takes on blocks and hit everything that moves. Then there’s the playmaking inside linebacker that knifes through to make tackles, often for a loss.

While Curtis Lofton is the thumper, Smith, with his explosion and speed, is the playmaker of the two. Smith did a good job of making plays for himself and others in the dress rehearsal Sunday. It was he that knifed through and a 3rd-and-1 and while he didn’t make the tackle, he forced the ball carrier outside.

And it was Khalil Mack, who had also penetrated into the backfield on the play, that forced a fumble. On the night, Smith had nine tackles (six solo) himself in just a little over one half of play. Smith also excels in pass-coverage, which is how he got his Super Bowl MVP to conclude the 2013 season.

Next: Raiders Defensive Playmakers: Charles Woodson