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If the Raiders are going to make a run in the AFC West, their defense, particularly against the run, is going to have to be much improved in 2010. Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha knows that and told PFW he expects the defense to be better, but added that it isn't "hitting on all cylinders just yet."
Oakland's starting secondary returns mostly intact from a season ago. There were changes made to the front seven, however, and players are still getting to used to each other.
"Obviously, we've made strides, but there's no way that we're there yet completely because it's such a new defense," Asomugha said. "There are new faces. There are people in new spots. … We've had the camps and the OTAs and all those things to get it there, but you really don't know until you actually play games.
"In the first few preseason games it's looked pretty good, but we haven't had a full game working together. We're not far off. We've got the talent there to be really special. It just depends on how quickly it moves as far as the chemistry."
While Asomugha's role on "D" could change depending on the game plan for each week, he said he's excited about how the team is using him in practice.
It's likely that defensive coordinator John Marshall will move the two-time Pro Bowler around more frequently than in the past, when Asomugha often was relegated to playing on the right side. He's expected to shadow the opposition's No. 1 receiver on a more frequent basis.
"It is good to be able to move around and the thing about it is, it's not the left and right part of it, not the following the No. 1 (receiver) — some teams don't even have a clear-cut No. 1," Asomugha said. "So that's not the issue of it, but being able to go inside and maybe blitz and drop back into coverage and some disguising and that sort of stuff. That's the stuff that can get me excited and get the defense excited because now you're in different positions to make those types of (big) plays."
Regardless of where Asomugha lines up, there is a good chance opposing quarterbacks will continue to avoid throwing in his direction. Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt have been battling for the other starting CB job.
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