The Sports Xchange

Raiders' rebuilt defense in full retreat

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders haven't had much luck against starting quarterbacks in their first two games of the preseason and now are faced with the prospect of Aaron Rodgers warming up in the bullpen.

As much as coach Dennis Allen has tried to put a positive spin on things during a preseason in which the Raiders are now 1-1, they have given up three touchdowns in four possessions against Minnesota starter Matt Cassel (one series) and Detroit's Matthew Stafford.

The line on opposing quarterbacks against the Raiders first-team defense -- 14 of 16, 150 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 145.3.

Cassel was 5 of 6 for 62 yards in one possession, which resulted in a rushing touchdown. Stafford stepped back and found Golden Tate on a double move against Tarrel Brown on the second snap for Detroit's offense for a 28-yard touchdown, then drove the Lions for a score ending in a 4-yard flip to Kris Durham.

It wasn't until Stafford went three-and-out in his third series of the game that the Raiders defense stopped a first-team quarterback.

For as much as Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver have lauded the communication among all the new defensive parts, the fact remains that the current unit hasn't played together for any length of time.

Free safety Charles Woodson and strong safety Tyvon Branch played only 1 1/2 games alongside each other last season as Branch went out for the season with a broken ankle.

Middle linebacker Nick Roach remains, but strong-side linebacker Khalil Mack is a rookie starter and Sio Moore is learning a new position on the weak side and competing with Miles Burris for the starting job.

The defensive line, with the exceptions of tackles Pat Sims and Stacy McGee, has been completely turned over.

Last preseason, the Raiders were awful in some games and then when the regular season started they played some representative football, almost pulling out a win in Indianapolis and standing 4-6 before a six-game losing streak to end the season.

And the talent this season is superior. Allen said he is not worried.

"It's not a finished product, but it's not a huge concern of mine," Allen said "I think last year we were kind of in the same boat.

"When you have that many new players and that many changing parts, it takes awhile to get that part of your defense down. I'm confident when we kick off (on Sept. 7) against the Jets, we'll play good defense."

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