Raiders Defense Won’t Change Without First-Round Pick D.J. Hayden

Tracy Porter has been the Oakland Raiders’ most consistently productive defensive back while playing primarily in the slot this season. That’s why coach Dennis Allen declined to shuffle Porter to the outside in nickel and dime situations this week, even though rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden has been sidelined with a groin injury.

One of the team’s top offseason additions, Porter will continue to work at right cornerback in the base defense for the Raiders’ Week 10 matchup against the New York Giants. However, as has been the case all season, Porter will also slide inside, where he’ll square off against Giants slot receiver Victor Cruz whenever Oakland goes to its nickel and dime packages.

That is quickly shaping up to be the marquee matchup of this game and could go a long way in determining who wins. Cruz remains the best downfield threat that Giants quarterback Eli Manning has and has been the one steady presence on the offense for New York.

That, along with Porter’s savvy and experience, is what convinced Allen to stick with Porter as the slot cornerback.

Per, Allen said:

He’s a really smart player and a really instinctive player. That’s what you have to be to play inside the slot because things happen a lot faster inside than they do out on the edge. It’s not always just about your ability. A lot of it has to do with your mental ability.

Porter is the top-ranked cornerback when it comes to defending the run, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). His ability to read plays, come off blocks and chase down the ball-carrier have been a big factor in the overall improvement of Oakland’s run defense, which was the primary focus of Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie in the offeason.

Porter’s production against the pass hasn’t been as sharp, though it’s still far ...

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