STEPHEN BRASHEAR / Associated Press

The Raiders' Shawntae Spencer (36) defends against Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate in a preseason game last month.

Raiders' new cornerbacks forming bond with safeties

Published: Monday, Sep. 10, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 - 8:39 pm

ALAMEDA – Raiders safety Tyvon Branch said going out to dinner with new teammates is a good way to develop a rapport.

This offseason, there have been a lot of those dinners.

When the Raiders look to slow down the San Diego Chargers' passing game, Branch will be relying on a new group of cornerbacks.

"We do a lot of dinners together, so the chemistry is definitely there," Branch said. "It helps build on-the-field chemistry when you spend time watching film and doing stuff together.

"They're cool guys so they're easy to hang out with."

They're cool guys, just not guys the casual fan has heard of.

Cornerback Ron Bartell played in one game last season and was out with a neck injury.

The other corner, Shawntae Spencer, is familiar locally after playing eight seasons with the 49ers.

Both have plenty of NFL experience and will be blending with a group of safeties (Branch, Michael Huff, Matt Giordano and Mike Mitchell) that returns from last season.

The secondary believes it's ready, and San Diego coach Norv Turner believes the new secondary is formidable.

"I think the secondary is outstanding," Turner said. "Obviously, we're familiar with the safeties, but I thought the corners played awfully well in the preseason. We've coached against them when they were with different teams and they're just aggressive, good cover guys."

The Chargers are aggressive on offense, too, so the Raiders' corners will be tested.

"Coach Turner does a great job of calling the game," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "They like to get the ball down the field, and they've got a lot of weapons to get the ball to. So we've got our work cut out for us defensively trying to keep the ball in front of us."

The Chargers have new receivers in Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, who played well against the Raiders while in Denver.

And San Diego still has tight end Antonio Gates who can cause problems.

The Chargers will test the chemistry of the Raiders' defense since the group hasn't had much time playing together.

"It does (take time) but it's one of those things that was behind bringing in veteran corners," Spencer said. "Just to expedite that process – it takes a while to really gel."

Two other cornerbacks have been with the Raiders less than two weeks.

Phillip Adams was claimed off waivers Sept. 1 and Joselio Hanson was signed Sept. 3 after being cut by Philadelphia.

"You get used to guys coming in and out, the longer you've been in this league," Bartell said. "Bringing in a guy like Joselio – he's played a lot of football, so being able to incorporate him into this defense isn't as tough as bringing in some guys that haven't been around.

"We've got a good coaching staff. The scheme is different, but it's not hard for a smart guy to pick up on."

If not, Branch will be ready for more dinners to get everyone caught up on the defensive scheme.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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