Oakland Raiders Training Camp Report: Defense Rising

DeMarcus Van Dyke had a somewhat disappointing rookie season. After starting four games and playing reasonably well, Van Dyke was phased out of the defense.

According to ProFootballFocus, Van Dyke would only play in 52 snaps after his Week 9 start; Van Dyke played 52 snaps in Week 9 alone. An injured hamstring caused Van Dyke to miss Week 10 and could have been an issue the rest of the way.

A healthy and more experienced Van Dyke will be given and opportunity by the new regime in 2012. Van Dyke has spent the last two days with the No. 1 defense while Ron Bartell heals from a hamstring injury suffered while training prior to the start of training camp. In two days of practice in shells, Van Dyke has been a standout.

Asked on what Van Dyke did after last season, he said, "I went home and my momma told me, 'DeMarcus, I'm your No. 1 fan, but you dropped too many interceptions last year.'"

Van Dyke said he's been working on catching the ball and turning his head when the ball is in the air, but he added that the new defense helps, "Look at quarterback, watch what he's doing and try to make plays."

The new defense is helping Van Dyke make the most of his opportunity with the starters. Van Dyke has been breaking on the ball and has broken up several pass breakups in coverage, with his only failure being a dropped interception opportunity on Day 1. Van Dyke has been blanketing receivers and tight ends in coverage for two days and receptions have been hard to come by against Van Dyke, which could explain the quiet start to camp from Denarius Moore.

Van Dyke has yet to come up with an interception, but his teammate Mike Mitchell jumped a pass from Carson Palmer to Juron Criner and went streaking down the sideline for a would-be touchdown. Mitchell is one of the more enthusiastic players you will see, and he broke up a pass earlier in practice, jumped up and pounded his chest with his fist....

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