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Improvement for Raiders defense begins with eyes

Updated August 23, 2017 - 9:04 pm

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Cornerback TJ Carrie sees what he did wrong.

“Eye violations,” he said Wednesday.

If that term doesn’t sound familiar, it should.

The phrase was a recurring one during the 2016 season, often what Raiders coach Jack Del Rio cited as a culprit for early-season coverage issues. The buzz term is back after some exhibition struggles, Carrie conceding that he was guilty of the crime in Saturday’s 24-21 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. defined the term as “discipline in the eyes.”

“If you have a certain responsibility, if your eyes are supposed to be on a certain object or a certain thing or person, just make sure you have the discipline to keep your eyes in man coverage and not let them roam,” Norton said. “It’s just about focus, being disciplined and being very responsible.”

Carrie’s struggles came against rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

On the opening drive, the Rams showed misdirection on a play-action pass, their entire offensive line crashing left while quarterback Jared Goff rolled right. Somewhere along the way, Carrie lost track of his assignment and Kupp was wide open for a 23-yard touchdown.

Kupp found success later on slant routes.

“Eye violations. That’s very key in this game,” Carrie said. “You have to do your job. You have 10 other players on the field with you that are all supposed to do a certain job. For me, I was supposed to do a job on that (touchdown) play, and I feel like I let my teammates down. It showed.

“So the critical mistakes like that, those are the things we have to work on, and that’s something that we’ve been hitting on this week and throughout our corrections: making sure our eyes are in the right place. … I’ve been getting some extra work with some of the receivers out here. Just going over the route concepts that I got that night. Getting the formation and feel for what I should do better. There’s a lot of things I could do better.”

Build off each exhibition game.

That’s all the Raiders hope to do. Their starters are expected to play at least the first half Saturday against the Cowboys.

Notable

— The Raiders have not publicly cemented EJ Manuel as the No. 2 quarterback over Connor Cook, though that remains the expectation. Manuel has seen vastly more snaps with the second-team offense than Cook since training camp began. “Both of them were told early, ‘You will get the reps that you earn,’” offensive coordinator Todd Downing said. “EJ was having a great, great camp, so he kind of continued to earn those No. 2 reps. It’s still an open competition, and we’re going to let the best man win it.”

— Tight end Lee Smith missed a second straight practice. The reason was not disclosed. He’s been able to stand and watch practice.

— The Raiders waived defensive end Jimmy Bean on Wednesday to create roster room for left tackle Donald Penn, who ended his nearly monthlong holdout.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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