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Raiders Mailbag: How will new-look defense fare against the Broncos?

Kieran Ward asks:

"What are we to expect from our new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo?"

First and foremost, Jimmy Garoppolo is a winner.

His 40-17 record as a starter and five playoff wins are nothing to sneeze at. Garoppolo has played in some big time games, which will benefit a Raiders team that won or lost games by a single possession 13 times last season. He's also connected quickly with his teammates, recently being voted a team captain.

"It's a privilege. It really is. I don't take it very lightly," Garoppolo told local media Wednesday. "I've been a captain before but to come to a new team and get that honor, it's pretty cool. I mean, we have a good locker room, a very tight knit group, guys who are willing to work and that's what it takes here. You have to be able to work every day, day in and day out. And it's just a fun group to be with. I'm honored to be a captain."

It's been a long offseason for the Raiders quarterback, rehabbing through a foot injury suffered last season. He seemingly attacked recovery head first, and has been back on the field since the start of Training Camp. After going 4-for-4 on his lone preseason drive, it will be intriguing to see how he performs in a bigger sample size.

"[Y]ou're always trying to improve things, little details here and there, a certain route with a guy, timing on a route," said Garoppolo. "There was a lot of that this offseason just being in a new offense and everything. But I feel like we're in a good spot. Still working, but we're in a good spot."

Antonio Rand asks:

"How will the Raiders improve this season on the defensive side of the ball?"

The biggest area of improvement I've noticed to the defense has been the secondary.

A key acquisition is Marcus Epps, who started at safety in the Super Bowl for the Philadelphia Eagles seven months ago. He's been a ballhawk throughout Training Camp, and was also voted a team captain. Another ballhawk added in free agency is Marcus Peters, with 32 career interceptions to his name. He could be a huge factor in the Raiders creating more turnovers this season.

The Silver and Black might also have a gem in their hands with fourth-rounder Jakorian Bennett. He's arguably been the most impressive rookie in the Raiders' 2023 draft class in camp, and could possibly start at outside cornerback this Sunday against the Broncos. These additions to go alongside 2021 draft picks Nate Hobbs and Tre’von Moehrig seem promising.

Billy Carr asks:

"Do you see Tyree Wilson playing a lot?"

After recovering from a season-ending foot injury at Texas Tech, Tyree Wilson returned to the field for the preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys. He came away with a tackle for loss and 70.5 defensive grade by Pro Football Focus in the appearance. While still developing, his sheer size and athleticism will likely warrant him getting a few reps this Sunday.

"We're working, obviously every day is a good day for Tyree," Head Coach Josh McDaniels said Wednesday. "He's kind of worked through this whole spring and summer on schedule with what we've been asking him to do. This week will be another week we'll push forward. So, I think he's done a tremendous job of trying to follow the plan. He'll be ready to go."

View the best photos from Thursday's practice at Intermountain Health Performance Center.

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