Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.
It's Week 9, the league has officially crossed the halfway point of the 2016 season, and to kick off the start of the second half the Oakland Raiders will take on the Denver Broncos this Sunday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., spoke with media members Thursday afternoon about the team's preparation for its primetime game. He shared that the team is focused on stopping a tough Broncos offense, and isn't getting caught up in the outside media attention.
Here are the quick hits from his media session:
**Norton praised cornerback DJ Hayden for his work ethic and relentless attitude on the field.
"Just confidence, playmaker. You see him studying. You see him practicing really hard. He really has a terrific work ethic. He really has taken to his other players. Everybody is really working together, watching film together and really understanding offensive concepts, really coming together and understanding what's expected of them. Really clear on what his job is and what his responsibility is, and it really shows in his confidence, the way he carries himself, the way he plays, the way he's making plays."
The second-year defensive coordinator shared his thoughts on the pairing of linebackers Perry Riley, Jr., and Malcolm Smith.
"Well, they're both really good football players, both really good veterans. They understand ball. They work really well together. You can tell they're both similar type players, so they understand each other really well. They have the ability and instinct to work off one another well, and they communicate well with others. I think that's really important for our growth and improvement to continue to improve and communicate."
He discussed what the Broncos bring to the table and what challenges they present.
"Well for us, we spend more time worrying about us, about how we execute, about how we run, about how we take the ball away, about how we communicate. They're going to line up and play ball. They're the reigning Super Bowl Champs, and we have to certainly compete and play well and execute to have a chance to play with them. We spend a lot of time on improving ourselves."
**Norton expressed his satisfaction with the defense closing out Sunday's game in overtime.
"They play really hard. You can tell how confident they were and they made plays. When you needed them to make the plays, they made them. Really proud of them. You can see the growth in them. You can see the attitude change, really playing a lot better football at the right time of the year."
He talked about the defense's progression and ability to communicate better in recent weeks.
"We've always known what we're capable of. At the same time, it's a matter of doing it, a matter of limiting the explosives. We were down to two explosives last week and usually it's more than that. It's a matter of really limiting those explosives, playing and executing ball for the entire game. Not having times where we kind of let up a little bit, but at the same time, really seeing them execute for the entire five quarters. They've really set a high standard. Now it's about being consistently playing at that high standard."