Scott Bair's Raiders Breakdown: Defensive Line
The Raiders ranked 31st in the NFL with 25 sacks last season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Editor’s note: Insider Scott Bair will be providing position-by-position breakdowns each day leading up to Raiders training camp. The full squad will report on July 24, with the first practice day scheduled for July 26. This morning, Scott focuses on the defensive ends.
Who they have: Lamarr Houston, Andre Carter, Jason Hunter, Brandon Bair, Ryan Robinson, Jack Crawford, David Bass, and Eric Harper.
Who they lost: Matt Shaughnessy, Dave Tollefson
Looking back: Houston proved himself a well-rounded defensive end during his third professional season. He had four sacks and flushed the pocket 35 times, but his run defense really stood out. He set a consistent edge and rarely missed tackles, especially over the final five weeks. Matt Shaughnessy had a pedestrian 2012, with inconsistency that seemed to get worse in the season’s second half. The Raiders ranked No. 31 with 25 sacks, but pass-rushing opportunities were rare because they played with a deficit most weeks.
Overall outlook: Houston remains the team’s best pass rusher, and will be counted on as a defensive leader. Shaughnessy left for Arizona and could be replaced by Hunter. Uncertainty surrounds the import from Denver, who missed the 2012 season with a triceps tear. He’s never been a consistent NFL starter, although he was set to become one before last year’s injury. The Raiders hope Crawford -- an athletic freak at 6-foot-5 and 281-pounds -- can contribute in his second season. Andre Carter is also in the mix, although at 34 his best days are likely behind him.
Camp competition: The Raiders would prefer a clear-cut starter at right end, with reserves to rotate in. Hunter doesn’t have the track record to be handed a starting spot. He’ll have to earn playing time opposite Houston, who will rarely come off the field. Crawford will compete for playing time in camp, and Carter could be a factor if he can find the form that produced double-digit sacks three times in his career. The other ends will spend the preseason fighting for a roster spot and a chance to contribute.