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Raiders mailbag: Fans happy to be 2-0, but what about defense?

Updated September 22, 2020 - 12:30 pm

Lawrence III (@Lawrencetha3rd ): Signing cornerback Earl Thomas and pairing him with Jonathan Abram sounds amazing. Any chance GM Mike Mayock pursues signing him?

Vinny Bonsignore: Erik Harris has had back-to-back rough games. While he has a track record of solid pay, he needs to pick it up. If he continues to struggle, then you have to figure the Raiders will keep their options open. Harris means a lot back there, though, from a leadership perspective.

Kal El (@RaidersFanInNC): Malik Collins has been invisible. We were told he’s the linchpin. He was near top of QB pressures for DT last year. Why has he had a slow start?

VB: Collins has been slow out of the gate, and it’s tough answer why that is. One thing you can point to is the adjustment going from a better defensive line to one that is developing, so perhaps more attention is being directed at him. Either way, Collins has to start playing better.

Unkn0wn (@Wee_Bey78): With some of the plays we saw Monday night there were a few in which we saw players open downfield. Do you think the team will continue to test the waters between short and deep routes to start throwing deep?

VB: They’ve taken some big shots, and nearly connected on long and short passes. You’ll see them continue to take more shots as the season goes on.

Eades (@eades73): Do we expect linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski back this week?

VB: The fact that he wasn’t put on the three-week injured reserve means the Raiders think he’ll be back within that time frame. That target can be this week. We might know later this week.

Don Julio (@ItsDonJulio): Is wide receiver Henry Ruggs still banged up?

VB: It was a bit ambitious to think he’d be completely healthy after getting hurt in Charlotte. He appears to be playing through some pain. But as you saw Monday, by just being out there he changes the dynamic of the offense.

Jonathan Kelley (@jsmk20raiders): Have you heard anything on running back Josh Jacobs’ injury?

VB: They will have better idea as week goes on, but the sense is he got banged up and had to sit out a few plays.

TH Spence (@IdahoSpence): Is defensive coordinator Paul Guenther on the hot seat?

VB: The Raiders are 2-0, the defense needs to get better, but it has contributed to both wins with some timely plays. He’s working in seven new starters and a bunch of young players, without the benefit of an offseason. He will get the necessary time to make it work.

Bobby “Fanatic” (@916SportSource): Do you think we will eventually establish a true No. 1 wide receiver or will tight end Darren Waller be the main attraction?

VB: As the season goes on, both Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs will become more and more involved. But with the Rams two seasons ago, there was no distinction among Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks, nor should there be. They all got their touches; they were all productive. They all contributed. The Raiders are headed in that direction.

Ali S. (@LAshowkatian): The defensive line is still a huge question mark. Everyone was raving about Clelin Ferrell before the season started, but I don’t recall him getting one pressure in two games. What’s going on there?

VB: Ferrell is grading out well and has been impressive with his run defense. According to Pro Football Focus, he is ranked 18th among defensive ends in run defense and 20th overall among defensive ends across all metrics. The perception of him will change with a few sacks. The issue is the Raiders need more from Maxx Crosby (75th), Maliek Collins (83rd) and Carl Nassib (77th). Crosby, in particular, has zero sacks, one hurry and one pressure — way down from last year.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore onTwitter.

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NFL betting trends for Week 7

The over is 15-7 in Bruce Arians’ games with Tampa Bay and 30-15 in games he coached dating to mid-2016. The over is 4-0-1 in Raiders games this season.