Last season the Raiders faced the Ravens in week two of the season. At that time the starters in the secondary were DJ Hayden, TJ Carrie, Charles Woodson (fresh off a dislocated shoulder) and Taylor Mays. And the game clinching interception was made by third corner, Neiko Thorpe. A LOT has changed since then.
Hayden and Carrie are the third and fourth corners, Woodson is retired, Mays and Thorpe are no longer on the team.
As of last week, for the first time, the four faces we expected to see take the field as the Raiders’ starting secondary took the field together. David Amerson (who was added the week after facing the Ravens last season) and free agent addition Sean Smith at the corner spots with free agent addition Reggie Nelson and 14th overall draft pick Karl Joseph at the safety spots.
The result was a dominant performance against the Titans, that included three takeaways.
That performance began with the cornerbacks with Amerson putting up 5 passes defended and Smith giving up just one catch while intercepting one as well.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh saw plenty to know he has his work cut out for him against those two.
“We’ve seen them play actually well,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “Sean Smith has been around a while. In Kansas City we played him a few times, so we know he’s very talented and a good player. And of course, David Amerson, he’s turned himself into one of the best corners, it looks like, in football right now. I think he’s done that by improving his technique and eyes and things like that and he looks really good.”
Then there’s the safety position which is one Harbaugh knows a thing or two about having had the likes of Ed Reed and Dawan Landry at the position during his tenure in Baltimore.
“I have always thought safety is one of the most important, most valuable positions on the field,” said Harbaugh. “You don’t want to give up big plays on defense and that goes for run and pass.”
After the Raiders secondary gave up several big plays the first two weeks of the season, they shut it down pretty well against the Titans.
It was Karl Joseph’s first game and there was a visible difference in the safety play with him versus Keith McGill the first two weeks.
“In the draft process I thought he was maybe the best safeties, one of the best for sure,” Harbaugh said of Joseph. “I thought they took him right in the right spot. I just love the way he tackled, love the way he played 100 miles per hour as a tackler, showed ball skills and I can see why they would want him in the lineup.”
On the flip side of Joseph’s one game of NFL tape, Harbaugh is quite familiar with Reggie Nelson as the two faced each other twice a year the past six years while Nelson was with the Bengals.
“We’ve seen Reggie for years and year, so they pair the rookie with the veteran, the wily veteran and he’s doing a good job. So, they have a very good secondary.”
The Raiders will need that secondary to step up big time once again this week as they prepare to face Joe Flacco and the undefeated Ravens in Baltimore.