Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

July 9, 2008
Defensive backfield in motion

Stanford Routt would prefer not to be a nickelback.

Can you blame him?

Playing the nickel or covering the slot receiver is one of the hardest jobs in football.

There's no sideline to help, giving the receiver the whole field to work with.

And in quick passing situations, the slot receiver is closest to the quarterback, giving his defender less time to react.

Because the Raiders don't blitz a lot, their third cornerback is always in a pinch. Who the Raiders decided to play over the slot will go a long way in determining if the team that finished first against the pass in 2006 can regain that form.

With the addition of DeAngelo Hall, Routt might be forced to cover the slot receiver again, something he's admittedly not nearly as comfortable doing when compared to covering receivers on the outside.

There's a chance the Raiders could toy with playing Hall on the slot and allowing Routt to play left cornerback, where he was the starter most of last season. Nnamdi Asomugha probably won't be put on the slot.

Michael Huff could see some time at cornerback if the Raiders want to get creative.

But Routt will probably have the job.

In today's NFL, teams are using three receivers with regularity. The Raiders need at least three solid corners, especially if the trend of little blitzing continues with little safety help.

Teams avoided Asomugha all of last season. If Hall is up to par, that means one thing:

Whether he's on the slot or not, a lot of attention will be on Routt.

Cornerback review:

Asomugha: Elite in coverage. He still hasn't signed his one-year franchise tender worth nearly $10 million. He has until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal with the Raiders.

Darrick Brown: Undrafted rookie that was a standout track athlete at McNeese State.

John Bowie: Known as the player the Raiders selected with the pick acquired in the Randy Moss trade and little else as he played in only two games.

Hall: Might find himself in the unusual position of being the cornerback that is picked opposite Asomugha. But he's up for the challenge after appearing in two Pro Bowls in four seasons with Atlanta.

Chris Johnson: A fast player that is primarily a special teams contributor. He figures to battle with Bowie to be the fourth cornerback.

Routt: Supplanted Fabian Washington last year, but will be a reserve again behind Asomugha and Hall.

Michael Waddell: Veteran signed as free agent.

-- Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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