Learning to play cornerback in the NFL can be a painful – and very public -- process.
Take Raiders rookie DeMarcus Van Dyke, for instance.
With starting corner Chris Johnson out with an injury, Van Dyke was in the starting lineup for Sunday night’s exhibition matchup with the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees, one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league.
Brees picked on Van Dyke several times in the first quarter as the Saints marched quickly and efficiently down the field en route to a 40-20 victory.
The entire Raiders secondary had its breakdowns throughout the game, but Brees’ early victimization of Van Dyke set the tone. Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle noted Brees completed four passes for 73 yards to receivers matched against Van Dyke in the opening minutes of the game.
“He’s got to learn from it,” Raiders head coach Hue Jackson told Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times. “He’s a rookie and he’s a very talented young man. He’s learning the NFL game. Until he starts making those plays consistently – and he made some and he missed some – until he makes them consistently and he’s out there, he’s going to get targeted. That’s the way this league is. Wherever you’re bleeding, people will keep scratching at the area, so we’ve got some things to fix.”
Van Dyke, a third-round pick from Miami, certainly wasn’t the only one in the secondary with a target on his helmet. Brees picked apart the defense, completing 15 of 23 passes for 189 yards.
The injuries and youth in the defensive backfield were reasons the Raiders signed veteran cornerback Lito Sheppard late last week. Sheppard did not play Sunday night.
Said cornerback Stanford Routt: “We’ve got to stop it. Plain and simple.”