Raiders Defense steps up during 11 on 11 team drills, forces multiple turnovers

Source: John Locher/AP

Marcus Mariota dropped back to pass the ball to Foster Moreau, who was running an out route. As he threw the ball, Rasul Douglas jumped the route and picked off the pass, getting the first interception from a defensive back during camp.

The Raiders offense has been winning the battles during 11 on 11’s pretty much since camp started. However, on Tuesday, it was a bit different. The defense did their job and showed what they might be able to do if everything comes together.

However, it wasn’t just Mariota’s interception by Douglas. After Mariota’s first interception, a few plays later, Mariota threw another interception, but this time to backup free safety Dallin Leavitt.

Again, it didn’t end there. De’Vante Bausby and Shaun Crawford also punched the ball out of John Brown and backup TE Matt Bushman’s hands (the offense fell on John Brown’s fumble).

To keep up the dominant performance by the defense, Trayvon Mullen was guarding Bryan Edwards, who has been an unstoppable force at camp, and Derek Carr threw him a pass that was a little high and hit the fingertips of Edwards. This pass was intercepted by Trayvon Mullen, which was his first interception of the 2021 training camp. The final interception came by Nevin Lawson on Nathan Peterman.

Forcing five turnovers is not an easy task. Especially since the Raiders were the third-worst defense in forcing turnovers in 2020. One of the key reasons the Raiders brought in a proven coach like Gus Bradley was to help with forcing more turnovers and getting the best out of the young defense.

“These guys have been hungry from the day I walked in, and my understanding is that’s how they were last year, too,” Bradley said of the defense earlier in camp. “They want to learn, they want to do well, so it’s been very good. I’ve been very pleased, as well as our staff, on their mindset.”

Gus Bradley has been changing the culture of the Raiders defense. Players have spoken very highly of the energy that Gus Bradley has brought to the Raiders. But it doesn’t stop there. The Raiders have brought in many players over the past few months via free agency and the draft.

The most recent pickup, Gerald McCoy, could become the biggest free agent pick-up of the offseason, not just from an on-field production standpoint, but from what he has already taught the younger players.

“Very little things that I’ve seen since I been here that I’ve pointed out. Guys are saying, wow, I never thought of it like that,” McCoy told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “You see how the d-line was rushing today? How they were getting after the offense?”

McCoy is talking about how the Raiders defense was dominating the offense today, which is something we haven’t seen from this unit until bringing in McCoy.

Although he isn’t taking credit for the multiple turnovers the defense forced, he did point out that teaching the younger players will allow them to play better.

“When you get a vet that knows the little nuances and gives a little tips and keys to help with whether loosening your alignment, tightening your alignment… What is the formation? What is the tackle giving you? Is the guard patting his hips? … How’s the quarterback’s foot? Is his knees rocking out? Is his knees turn in? Little things, the difference in being a pro and a professional.”

McCoy is spot on with his valuation of playing defensive line. The little things go a long way and are the difference between being a pro and a professional. If he can continue to help develop the young players, the $2M contract McCoy was given can prove to be well worth it, especially if his tips continue to lead the Raiders defensive line into pressuring the opposing quarterback.

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