McGloin shines in debut but Wilson stumbles
Lamarr Houston has been out 11 straight days. (AP)
Tackle Vance Walker has practiced five times in two-plus weeks. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
NAPA – The Raiders starting defensive line hasn’t played together yet this training camp. Not a single snap.
Injuries have beset ends and tackles alike, but the starting unit especially has missed significant time. Defensive tackle Pat Sims has an hour’s worth of practice in 12 sessions due a hamstring injury he thought was healed and wasn’t.
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Tackle Vance Walker has practiced five times in two-plus weeks and end Lamarr Houston has been out 11 straight days.
The trio did not play Friday against Dallas and did not practice Sunday. Despite so much time out, the prognosis isn’t any clearer.
They may not play the next preseason game at New Orleans, meaning the time to build chemistry along the defensive front is growing short.
“I want to get those guys out there and let them begin to work together,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “They definitely need the work. It’s hard to play this game without practicing. It’s not a game where you can just line up on Friday night and think everything’s good to go, and even more true that it’s not a game where you can just line up on Sundays and think that everything is going to be perfect. So, we need to get guys out here, we need to get guys out healthy, and we need to get them working.”
Cohesion along the defensive line isn’t as vital as it is along the defensive front, but it’s important considering how many new faces are in this group. Presumptive starting end Jason Hunter, Walker and Sims are all first-time Raiders. Outside of Hunter and pass-rushing specialist Andre Carter, the regular line rotation has been absent.
“That’s not the way we wanted it to go,” Carter said. “It’s important to practice next to the guy you’ll be working with regularly, so you can figure out how he likes to play and how the line as a whole communicates. Everyone has individual duties, but you have to play as one up front.”
The Raiders need and expect to play better along the defensive line than they did Friday against the Cowboys. They struggled to establish a four-man pass rush, something crucial to success in coverage.
The first-team defensive line didn’t have a quarterback sack, hit or a hurry against the Cowboys, who at times had all day to throw the football.
The Raiders hope those issues will be corrected by the proper personnel. The injured linemen are all veterans of quality, but that talent is only accessible when healthy.
“I know all those guys want to get back on the practice field,” Carter said. “I really believe there’s some talent in this group, and that we’ll be productive up front even when we’re only rushing four. “