ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders remain optimistic heading into their final preseason game despite a 1-2 record, with the biggest area concern a vulnerable run defense.
The most recent example came in a 27-14 home loss to Tennessee at the Coliseum, allowing the Titans to gouge the Raiders' first-team defense for 106 yards on 21 carries in the first half, with Tennessee running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry doing considerable damage.
The previous week, Green Bay power back Eddy Lacy had 45 yards on seven carries against the first unit and almost by himself led the Packers to an opening touchdown drive.
"I want to stop the run," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. "We really haven't stopped the run the way we expect this year. Miss-fits continue to cause problems. We have to get that cleaned up. Obviously, that's a critical area that must be addressed and will continue to be addressed. The evaluation continues."
Through three preseason games, the Raiders are ranked 29th against the run and their totals of surrendering five rushing touchdowns and five rushing plays of 20 yards or more are the highest in the NFL.
Last season, the Raiders finished a respectable 13th against the run, and after a shaky first eight games, considerable improvement was made.
While last season the Raiders often played mammoth defensive tackles Dan Williams and Justin "Jelly" Ellis side-by-side, one or the other is playing in the preseason in what amounts to a 3-4 defense but is actually more of a 5-2 with edge players Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin on the outside.
Rookie Jihad Ward, a second-round draft pick, was moved off the ball easily against Tennessee. Ellis and Williams attempted to hold their ground, while linebackers Ben Heeney and Malcolm Smith struggled to fill gaps.
The fitting of those gaps, Del Rio believes, will solve any issues the Raiders have against the run.
"We've got guys trying to do too much, trying to shed blocks and jump gaps," Williams said. "It comes down to everybody doing their jobs. DeMarco and Derrick Henry did a good job finding the holes we left for them. This is great for us. It gives us plenty to work on."
Del Rio had softened his initial harsh review of the Raiders run defense heading into the Seattle game, but still sees room for improvement and thinks practice is the perfect time to do it.
"You can work on those things . . . it ends up being right now, it's coming out of camp, preparing for the regular season," Del Rio said. "You get these opportunities in preseason to kind of tighten thigns up. I expect we'll be ready to roll when the regular season gets here."
Mack, whose pass rushing gets most of the notoriety but is equally adept at stopping the run, is none too happy about seeing opponents gaining ground.
"There's a lot of concern, you just have to go back to the drawing board and get it corrected," Mack said. "It's fits, everything. It starts with us, and me. It definitely bothers you, being a defensive guy and a defensive leader. But it's a great learning expeirence, and this will only get us ready."