Raiders' Run Defense Will Get Good Test

Titans' solid rushing attack and mobile quarterback should give the Raiders a chance to learn what they need to improve in third exhibition game

A week ago, the Oakland Raiders’ first-team defense didn’t fare so well against the Green Bay Packers' rushing attack.

On the first drive of the game, the Packers ran over the Raiders, with big running back Eddie Lacy doing the most damage.

Lacy had runs of 20, 4, 4, 6, 5, zero, 5 and zero yards before blasting into the end zone from a yard out to help give Green Bay a 7-0 lead en route to a 20-12 exhibition victory. That was 45 yards on the ground by Lacy to start the game, and the Packers went on to rush for 145 yards on the ground for the game. That total wasn’t huge, but the fact the Raiders’ first-team defense couldn’t stop Green Bay early wasn’t a good sign.

Raiders cornerback Sean Smith said the Packers “forced the ball down our throats.”

“Obviously we have some work to do but this is preseason and no one is panicking,” Smith told Paul Gutierrez of “So we will just get back to work.”

The results of that work this week will be on display Saturday night, when the Tennessee Titans come into Oakland to play exhibition No. 3.

It will be a great test for the Raiders defense, because Tennessee ranks No. 2 in the NFL this summer in rushing, averaging 6.7 yards per attempt and 192 yards per game. Oakland will face some good backs in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and a mobile quarterback in Marcus Mariota. Murray has 113 yards on just 11 carries – including a 71-yard touchdown run – while Henry, the rookie from Alabama, has 105 yards on 15 carries.

Said Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio this week: “I think they’re running the ball as well as anybody in the league right now, so it will be a great test for our run defense.”

Oakland defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. told reporters that facing Mariota will add another dimension to the Saturday-night test.

The Raiders will need to contain Mariota, who can make a defense pay for ignoring him as a runner.

“You have to certainly contain your quarterback and you have to play good solid ball, good fundamental ball throughout the game consistently,” he said of the challenge offered by the Titans’ offense.

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