Five Takeaways From Ken Norton, Jr.'s, Thursday Press Conference

The Oakland Raiders continued their preparation for their 2015 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals with another day of on-field work Thursday afternoon.

Following the day's session, defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., held his weekly press conference at the team's Alameda, Calif., facility.

Here are the highlights from his media session.

Norton spoke about the challenges that the Bengals offense presents the Silver and Black's defense this Sunday.

"They're very, very skilled group. Really nice throwers, really good catchers. Fantastic combination at the runners. Really explosive group, so we have to really take our time and do our best to matchup with them."

He also spoke about the importance of stopping the Cincinnati rushing attack.

"I think anytime in this league, you have to be able to run the ball and our side of it, we have to be able to stop the run. That's one of our top philosophies. They're big. They like to run the ball. They like to have pullers. [Jeremy Hill] is a strong runner. He gets on the edges, breaks a lot of tackles. They both, [Hill] and [Giovani Bernard] have the ability to take it all the way."

Norton said that while practices remain largely the same as the team approaches the regular season, what does change is the mindset the team carries through the sessions.

"It's just a matter of the mindset. I think anytime you get closer to game time, high performance, you feel a little difference from the players and the coaches, but for us, being a new group, a new system, new coaches, it's a matter of just growing."

He also mentioned safety Nate Allen and how much more comfortable the new Raider has become since joining the team.

"You saw the last time the ones [first team] played against Arizona. You saw a big difference in the way Nate Allen really showed up. I think anytime you play a defense, anytime you're new to new surroundings, and new environment, it's going to take a while to really adjust to the system, to the environment, to what everyone is asking."

Linebacker Curtis Lofton is a gift from above for Norton and the rest of the Raiders defensive staff.

"Curtis has been heaven-sent. He's a guy that is very smart, really tough and around here toughness is a talent. He has the whole front seven, front eight lined up. He has a real strong voice. They all listen to him. He knows exactly where everybody is supposed to be. He knows exactly what he's doing. He's that strong voice, that center of attention. He's that guy that you want to play middle linebacker. Curtis is everything a middle linebacker is supposed to be."

Norton on the importance of tackling fundamentals.

"You have to tackle. It's a way to let people know and yourself know what type of defense you are. So tackling is something we really emphasis, work on, talk about, illustrate, diagram it, everything. They catch the ball, they're going down. No yards after touches. No yards after catches. They catch the ball for three, it's a three-yard gain, no misses."

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