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Routt and McClain Keys to the Raiders Defense in 2011

Pro Football Weekly reports that two players that are ultra important for the Raiders in 2011 is Stanford Routt and Rolando McClain.

Second-year MLB Rolando McClain is one of the players who needs to show improvement in that area. As a rookie, McClain was a force against the run, but often appeared to be out of place on passing plays. Skilled at making an impact when the ball is nearby, the team needs McClain to improve his range this season and be more of a complete player in the pass defense.

But no player faces greater pressure than Stanford Routt. Before the lockout began, the team gave Routt a three-year, $31.5 million contract, using up much of the organization’s cap space on a player the Raiders assume will be taking over as the No. 1 cornerback. A year ago, quarterbacks who had no interest in challenging Asomugha targeted Routt often, throwing at him 92 times according to Football Outsiders. He gave up his fair share of big plays — allowing five touchdowns and being whistled for five pass-interference penalties — and when passes were completed on him, opponents gained more than 20 yards per catch.

Routt also showed some skills despite being thrown at so frequently, successfully defending 66 percent of the throws that came his way. That was the third-best mark in the entire NFL from corners who were targeted 40 or more times in 2010, trailing only Darrelle Revis(notes) of the Jets and the Vikings’ Antoine Winfield.

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