DE Lamarr Houston catches the ball during practice.* Photo by Tony Gonzales*
The Oakland Raiders held their final day of Organized Team Activities (OTA) at their Alameda practice facility on Thursday. Throughout OTAs, the defense has been installing their new system and working diligently to become as familiar with it as possible before training camp. "I feel like we progressed with all the installments we've had over the past two weeks," said DE Lamarr Houston. "I feel like we're building our tradition as a defense and our foundation for the season so I feel like we're doing really well."
The players are excited about the opportunities the new defense presents. "This is a very fun defense," said LB Philip Wheeler. "I've been making a few plays at practice, along with the other guys. It's a very fun defense to play in. You get to run around and you can't really make too many mistakes as long as you are running around being aggressive and that's the type of player I am."
Second-year CB DeMarcus Van Dyke, who is participating in his first off-season program in the NFL, is soaking up as much information as possible from the coaches and the veterans. "This has helped me out a lot," said Van Dyke. "We have the installs every day, getting a feel for the game, and we've got two great corners in front of me, Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell, who are helping me out a lot."
Van Dyke feels good about the way the defense is shaping up. "I'm loving it," said Van Dyke. "It's a vision defense. We see a lot of stuff so I'm going to make a lot of plays this year coming up."
Curtis Taylor, a third-year safety out of LSU, has seen the team improve during the off-season program. "I feel like the team has achieved a lot over these two months or so," said Taylor. "But I feel like we're moving forward in a good way, so that's all you can ask for."
The defense is starting to feel comfortable with each other. "We built a lot of camaraderie over the past four weeks of OTAs," said Houston. "It's a brotherhood playing football. You have to have a strong brotherhood so I think we spent a lot of our off time just hanging out with each other."
Taylor is impressed with how well the team has come together despite all the changes defensively. "I think we've gelled great considering it's a new staff, new everything, new defense," said Taylor.
The entire team will have one more chance to work together before training camp during next week's mandatory mini-camp. Log on to Raiders.com, the Raiders official Facebook page, and Twitter for complete coverage Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.