Jose Carlos Fajardo Contra Costa Times Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston grabs Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo during an Aug. 13 exhibition game.

Raiders' Houston takes shape as a force

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C

ALAMEDA – The Raiders coaches asked defensive end Lamarr Houston to report to training camp 10 pounds lighter than he was at offseason workouts. He lost 20.

"Couple pounds makes a big difference," Houston said.

In either direction, in fact, as Houston wanted to shed the weight to be more agile rushing off the edge but had to keep in mind the Raiders may shift him inside in some alignments this season, where he'll have to deal with more double-team blocks.

That was evident Saturday when Houston was seemingly everywhere in the Raiders' 31-20 exhibition win over Detroit. He recorded a team-high six tackles – including two plays on which he brought down running back Mikel Leshoure behind the line of scrimmage, one to the left side and one to the right – and assisting on two more.

Houston, who shifted inside when the Raiders brought in a third defensive back in their nickel formation, was singled out by coach Dennis Allen for his play. Allen praised his "energy and passion" and opined Monday that Houston is noticeably quicker than he was at minicamp in June.

Drafted by the Raiders in the second round in 2010, Houston played tackle and end at Texas and said he also moved around last year, when he started 13 games and weighed about 305 pounds. He is still listed at 300 but said he came to camp around 285.

Playing on the inside of the line, Houston said: "You can't be too much smaller than 285, or 295 really. You get a lot of doubles and block-backs from the center, things like that."

Said Allen: "He gives us an athletic rusher inside. I think from a defensive-line standpoint, we've got some guys that have some versatility, that can play outside and inside and give us the ability to move some guys around."

Another is former New York Giant Dave Tollefson, whom the Raiders signed in free agency. Teams must trim their rosters to 53 players by Friday, and having that kind of flexibility along the line would seem to free Allen to make decisions there based more on talent than position need. Allen, though, said he'll do that anyway.

"I'm not into the numbers game as far as we're going to keep this many at this position and this many at that position," Allen said. "We're going to keep the best 53 that gives us the best chance to win games. If we've got a good football player, I'm going to find a way to make sure he's on the football team."

First cuts – The Raiders reduced their roster to 75 players by cutting 10 players and waiving/injured two others. Waived were linebacker Korey Bosworth, defensive ends Mason Brodine and Wayne Dorsey, safeties Aaron Henry and Chaz Powell, cornerback Terrail Lambert, wide receivers Thomas Mayo and DeAundre Muhammad, quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero and fullback Manase Tonga.

Tonga played in 11 games and Brodine in two games last season after both were signed from the practice squad. Lambert also spent time on the practice squad last year.

Fullback Rashawn Jackson (hip) and offensive lineman Ed Wang (shoulder) were waived-injured and will be eligible for injured reserve once they clear waivers.

Et cetera – Allen said he will wait until Friday to decide whether to place linebacker Aaron Curry (knees) on the physically unable to perform list to start the season. If that happens, Curry will sit the first six weeks of the season before he can practice.

• Left-handed quarterback Matt Leinart (cut on right index finger) practiced Monday and is expected to play Thursday at Seattle. Wide receiver Jacoby Ford was not wearing a boot on his injured left foot. Defensive tackle Richard Seymour again did not practice because of sore knees.

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Read more articles by Matt Kawahara



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