With the Raiders in rebuild mode, it would have been logical to think we would have seen more young guys get a plethora of snaps on defense like Karl Joseph, Gareon Conley, Nick Nelson, Jason Cabinda, and Nicholas Morrow.
Only until recently has Raider Nation been able to watch these guys earn numerous snaps. If you forgot what the young guys did last week, here is a quick summary from our own Levi Damien. And the increase in play has helped the young talent play just a little bit better.
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is encouraged by the recent improvement.
“I keep saying every week, I just want to see progression as we go through week by week,” Guenther said. “That’s all you can really ask for at this point. Some of these young guys, I think with [Gareon] Conley in there, he really didn’t play much (in his rookie season), at one point in the game we had six rookies out there if you count Conley as a rookie with Nick Nelson and [Jason] Cabinda and the three d-lineman and Conley. So, it’s good to see that.”
But, Guenther isn’t just going to hand out snaps because a player is young. Guenther wants to see one thing.
“Consistency,” Guenther said. “I keep telling the guys, you can’t be bored with consistency in this game. Whether it’s the coverage or playing the three-technique or six-technique or linebacker, never be bored with consistency. In any sport golf, pitching, tennis, whatever it is, consistency is the key to success.”
Guenther liked what he saw from Joseph in coverage as well as adding some hits and blitzes, adding that the third year safety is “coming along right where we want him.”
In terms of Nelson, Guenther thought he did a good job and wants to “continue to get him snaps and get him experience in the slot.”
Second year linebackers Nicholas Morrow and Marquel Lee both impressed their defensive coordinator. He noted that Morrow earned his increased snaps last week and moved Marquel Lee to SAM linebacker to get him on the field along.
“We felt like to get Marquel in there and keep him going, we taught him the SAM linebacker so Cabinda could slide into the MIKE,” Guenther said. “He did a really good job in there for us. He’s going to continue to play in that role and see how we go with it.”
Look for these young defenders to continue to see snaps and perhaps even see their snaps increase.