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Silver Minings: Free agents are fueling the Raiders’ defensive revival

CB Casey Hayward is among new the heroes wearing Silver and Black

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NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Casey Hayward
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

There is no question that the Las Vegas Raiders’ defense is improved after the first two games of the 2021 season.

The biggest differences are on the defensive line where there is improved pass rush, and in the secondary where better coverage and ball skills is evident. One of the reasons for the uptick in production in the play of some key free-agent additions, including cornerback Casey Hayward.

Indeed, Hayward, pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackle Solomon Thomas (who had two sacks at Pittsburgh on Sunday) and linebacker K.J. Wright are among the Raiders’ new defenders who have already shown up.

Of course, Hayward, Ngakoue and Wright are among the new additions who had previously played for new Las Vegas defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. He wanted his guys and it is already paying for the franchise.

In other Raiders’ links:

  • Carr’s aggression: The Athletic looks at Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr’s deep passes in the first two games of the season.
  • Power ranking love: The Raiders cracked the top 10 in The Athletic’s Week 3 NFL power rankings.
  • Are the Raiders for real? CBS Sports thinks they are.
  • Blazing Henry: Raiders’ receiver Henry Ruggs III hit more than 21 MPH (the fastest of his career) on his 61-yard touchdown catch at Pittsburgh.
  • HOF candidates: Several players who spent time with the Raiders are among the 122 names currently on the list for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February. Remember, the late wide receiver Cliff Branch is the Senior Committee nominee and should get into Canton.