The Oakland Raiders secondary have played well during the first two games of the regular season, making plays in coverage and in the backfield.
Oakland’s top three tacklers during Sunday’s contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars were defensive backs: safety Charles Woodson and cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and DJ Hayden.
Three of the five sacks that brought down quarterback Chad Henne came from blitzing defensive backs.
Tracy Porter made his presence felt early by deflecting two passes targeted for wide receiver Cecil Shorts during the first quarter.
Woodson, who came back to Oakland to be a leader for an overhauled defense, is doing so by example.
The 36-year-old veteran was the Raiders leading tackler in the game with six, including a jumping tackle over a Jaguars blocker in the red zone that brought down running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
“Charles made an exceptional play,” head coach Dennis Allen said to the media after the game via csnbayarea.com. “Anytime you see a guy like Charles Woodson, who has played as long as he has … to make an effort play like that really gives the whole team a lot of momentum.”
The Raiders hope to carry that momentum into next week when they go on the road to face AFC West rival Denver Broncos.
The Raiders secondary will really have to show its worth when it faces Peyton Manning and company.
Things won’t get easier for the Raiders defense as it lost one of its more productive players in safety Tyvon Branch during the first quarter.
Branch suffered from a fractured fibula and is out indefinitely csnbayarea.com reported.
“I took a glance at the score after our game and it looks like Denver put up a lot of points again,” Woodson said to the news source after the game.
He also said that while it was good get their first regular season victory, the team will have to “get over it quickly” as it looks forward to playing in Denver for Monday Night Football.
Raiders running back Darren McFadden showed he is one of the best in the NFL when healthy as he rushed for 129 yards on 19 carries.
Days after signing a contract extension, fullback Marcel Reece rewarded the team by scoring the Raiders’ only touchdown of the game during its opening drive.
If Oakland can establish its ability to run the ball and Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor can minimize mistakes, then the team will have a puncher’s chance to steal one in Denver.
However, it will be up to the Raiders defense to keep the game close enough to give Pryor and the offense opportunities.