Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.
Thursday afternoon, Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., spoke with reporters about the team's defensive improvement in recent weeks and how they've grown. He acknowledged the effort the players have put in day and night in order to get one step closer to the ultimate goal. The defense will face a tough opponent this Saturday when they host quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, but have prepared for the bout all week.
Here are the quick hits from his time at the podium:
Norton talked about why the defense has been so successful recently and what they're doing differently.
"Just the hard work. The guys have really put in a lot of hard work. They really are prideful about their performance. I think going in, everyone had really high expectations. Now that things are coming together, they feel good about the direction they're going. They feel good about their growth. The work that they're doing is able to transfer on the field and they're getting better at the right time."
He discussed what makes them effective in the crucial moments of games and praised their durability.
"Well again, they practice well. The players really practice well. I think that the conditioning, the whole staff has done a great job of having the guys ready to finish strong. There's a rotation that they're on to make sure that their legs are really good toward the end of the game. The guys are really working well together as far as different guys playing. Then at the same time, execution; guys wanting to win, really putting it together and playing well as a team. I think the execution part of it, the communication part of it, guys really putting their will together to really finish strong has really been impressive."
**The second-year defensive coordinator commended linebacker Bruce Irvin for doing a multitude of things well and being a versatile player.
"Bruce has been trying to get there for a long time now. I think his rookie year he might have had 8.5. He's really been trying to get to that point. To his value, he does so much. Everybody likes sacks, but Bruce, he's our spy. He's our cover guy. He's the guy on the other side of Khalil [Mack]. He's the guy who re-routes the receivers well. He's one of our fastest, best athletes. He's a guy who shows up early and studies late. He's one of the team leaders."
Norton broke down what makes defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., such a dynamic pass rusher.
"Just his versatility. He's a guy that really plays hard, really good, athletic person. Mario is very impactful. When he's in the game, you're going to know it. He's an impact player."