ALAMEDA Defensive end Lamarr Houston is aware the Raiders' first-team defense barely laid a hand on New Orleans' Drew Brees or Chicago's Jay Cutler in the last two preseason games.
He's not overly concerned.
"We want to get it out there that we can rush the passer, but at the same time it's preseason. Everything is very vanilla, and offenses are very vanilla," Houston said. "Right now, you can't really tell how much better we've gotten as a defensive line, but soon, you'll be able to see."
Houston and strong safety Tyvon Branch are the only starters remaining from last season's unit. A third, linebacker Miles Burris (Granite Bay High School), has yet to practice after offseason knee surgery.
The Raiders moved Houston from left end to right end, making him the blind-side pass rusher, although he'll move inside on some downs with Andre Carter coming in as a nickel rusher.
A two-week absence because of an undisclosed injury slowed Houston's progress. He played Friday against Chicago after minimal practice time, and it showed, coach Dennis Allen said.
"I thought he was rusty," Allen said. "I don't think that was his best effort. That just goes to show you it's hard to play this game if you don't get a chance to practice."
Houston, 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, is not the prototype right end who plays with high energy and a low center of gravity. He made 10 sacks in three seasons at left end.
"He's a little bit more of a power rusher than he is a speed rusher, but I really think he's a guy that can help in getting some pressure on the quarterback," Allen said.
Houston resists being typecast by where he lines up.
"I really don't think of positions like that," he said. "I wouldn't put myself in a category as being a pass rusher or a run stopper. I just think I'm a pretty good athlete who loves to play football."
Notes Sebastian Janikowski wasn't mentioned on Allen's injury update with reporters, but the kicker came out late to practice wearing a ball cap instead of a helmet and watched as punter Chris Kluwe attempted a field goal. After practice, the Raiders auditioned a left-footed kicker on a distant field. Their policy is to not disclose the names of players who try out.
Linebacker Kaluka Maiava, out since late July because of an ankle injury, was back at practice and hopes to play in Thursday's preseason finale against Seattle.
Branch returned to practice after recovering from a rib injury. Allen said he would see how Branch responds before deciding whether he plays Thursday.