In the days since Oakland lost to New Orleans in the Raiders’ second exhibition game, the team has been looking for answers along both lines.
The Saints manhandled the Raiders’ offensive and defensive lines Friday night in jumping out to a 23-0 lead en route to a 28-20 victory over Oakland.
But at least one young defender gave the Raiders’ braintrust something positive to ponder: rookie David Bass.
The defensive end – a seventh-round pick from little Missouri Western State -- had two tackles, a sack and a forced fumble that led to a touchdown in the third quarter.
Bass sacked Saints’ backup quarterback Seneca Wallace and caused Wallace to fumble, which allowed fellow rookie defensive end Ryan Robinson to pick up the ball and jog into the end zone from a yard out and close the score to 23-14.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” Bass told the Raiders’ website. “Getting sacks in this league is not easy and especially getting a sack and a forced fumble. Just sticking my arm out, swatting at the quarterback’s arm has become a habit, so I did it and the ball actually came out. That felt real good for me. Then Ryan was right there to scoop it up and score so he got his first touchdown of his career.”
The 6-foot-4, 262-pounder is making a big leap up from Division II college ball to the NFL, but he proved at Missouri Western State that he could get to the quarterback. Last season he had 11½ sacks, and he set the school record over four seasons with 39½.
Bass, who says he’s been absorbing a lot from veteran defensive end Andre Carter, says he’s trying to learn from his mistakes.
“I did a lot better from the first game, but at the same time, I still have mistakes to correct,” Bass told Raiders.com. “I’m trying to get better every day but I can tell I was flying around, getting out of the stack and making plays and holding my own out there (vs. the Saints), so I felt like I did good.”
Bass and Jack Crawford – a second-year defensive end from Penn State – have been positives so far during this training camp. They’ll have two more exhibition games to continue to impress, beginning with this Friday night’s matchup against the Bears in Oakland.
Because the Raiders were horrific in 2012 in getting to opposing quarterbacks – they had just 25 sacks – they’re looking for pass-rush production from newcomers such as Bass and Crawford, veterans Carter, Jason Hunter and Lamarr Houston and rookie linebacker Sio Moore.
For Bass, every day offers a new lesson.
“Coming off the edge at this elite level is a lot different, I can tell you that, especially coming from a DII school,” Bass told a reporter recently. “I’ve been just trying to fine-tune my pass rush and get my technique down because you can’t just come off the edge any old way at get to the QB. … There’s a lot involved.”