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Raiders secondary ‘a big step ahead’ in communication and disguising coverages

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Safety Karl Joseph is already seeing major differences in the way the secondary is functioning compared to last season.

Communication is the key to any great relationship. It is also vital to the hopes of the Raiders seeing improvement on defense.

“As long as we’re on the same page we can’t be wrong,” said Raiders safety Karl Joseph after minicamp wrapped on Thursday.

“That comes with everything in practice. They put a big emphasis on that,” said Joseph of the trio of coaches he has worked closely with this offseason— safeties coach Brent Vieselmeyer, cornerbacks coach Rod Woodson and defensive assistant John Pagano.

“That’s the main thing they talk about is communication...I think we’re a big step ahead of where we were last year around this time.”

One of the main reasons Pagano was hired this offseason as Assistant Head Coach -- Defense, was to stress the importance of the secondary communicating. That mantra appears to be paying off already, as has the mentorship of one of the NFL’s top tier quarterbacks.

“I talk to D.C. sometimes after practice,” Joseph continued. “I think him being one of the best quarterbacks in the league, a lot of our disguises, he’ll pick up but just a regular quarterback wouldn’t be able to pick up. He’s been very helpful for that.”

Another reason the defense is ahead of schedule? Highly adaptable rookies.

“They’ve been great, man,” said Joseph of the Raiders’ pair of rookie defensive backs, Obi Melifonwu and Gareon Conley. “They’re very smart. I think they’re probably a step ahead of where I was last year because I couldn’t participate in everything.”

Melifonwu and Conley fill out a secondary with Joseph and the veteran presence of cornerbacks Sean Smith, David Amerson and safety Reggie Nelson.

The group finished a paltry 24th overall in pass defense last season. They will hope that the stress on communication and concealment of their coverages will lead to a more fruitful ranking in the coming years.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Joseph, “but we’re moving in the right direction.”


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