The Oakland Raiders' talented defensive line did not live up to its billing in 2012. The Raiders only sacked opposing quarterbacks 25 times last season. Despite the lack of production, the Raiders boast some young defensive ends to build around.
One player who showed his worth to the organization was Lamaar Houston. He had a team leading 4.5 sacks while starting all 16 games. Houston finished fourth on the team in tackles with 67 and played with heart and hustle. Against Denver, Houston showed his motor and presence of mind by recovering a fumble at the Raiders' four yard line after a 40 yard gain. Peyton Manning completed a long pass to Demaryius Thomas, who lost the ball just before scoring. Houston rushed the quarterback then hustled more than 50 yard down the field and made the fumble recovery. Plays like that show the value Houston provides to Oakland. He is in the final year of his contract in 2013 and if he can duplicate his play from 2012, he will be a future building block for the Raiders.
Opposite of Houston was Matt Shaughnessy, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The fourth year defensive end started all 16 games and finished second on the team with 3.5 sacks. He only played three games in 2011 because of injury. He is known for his above average play against the run. The Raiders will be in for an interesting decision on whether to resign Shaughnessy, but it would look to be a priority because of their lack of experience and depth at the position.
Andre Carter signed with the Raiders after the season started and began seeing the field after the bye week. He tore his quad in 2011 and was still working off the rust. The 13 year veteran played in 12 games and recorded 2.5 sacks. He contributed, but cannot be counted on in the Raiders future plans because of his age.
The Raiders drafted Jack Crawford in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He played in four games this season, but was inactive for much of the year. He injured his foot in the preseason which cost him some valuable practice time. Crawford has the physical ability to be a defensive lineman in the league. Because of the lack of playing time in 2012, it is unknown what Crawford can bring to the Raiders. He should be a part of the rotation in 2013 if he can get healthy and develop during the offseason programs.
Oakland signed Dave Tollefson from the New York Giants last offseason to a two year deal. In his first year, the versatile defensive end was a non-factor. He played in 15 games, recording 8 tackles and a .5 sack. He is under contract for another season and will have to prove his value to be considered a part of the organizations future.
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