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Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Raiders work to replenish defense

By Bill Williamson

The Oakland Raiders need starters and overall depth on defense and on Wednesday they acted to help fill that void.

The team signed defensive end Jason Hunter (Denver), linebacker Kaluka Maiava (Cleveland) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (Cincinnati).

“We’re excited to add three veterans through free agency,” Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a statement. “(They help) to create depth and competition on defense. We’ll continue to add free agents as the opportunity surfaces.”

The team has also visited with Chicago linebacker Nick Roach. Oakland cut safety Michael Huff and lost linebackers Philip Wheeler (Miami) and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant (Cleveland) on Tuesday. They ended the day with just three sure starters in the form of defensive lineman Lamarr Houston, linebacker Miles Burris and safety Tyvon Branch.

The three new additions will help Oakland. I think Sims and Maiava could be starters and Hunter is a decent rotational player.

Scouts like Sims, who started one game last season and who is injury prone. But he has talent. Maiava started most of last season in Cleveland. Hunter played in Denver under Oakland head coach Dennis Allen.

I’m not sure if these are upgrades. But they are NFL-quality players who should make contributions in Oakland. I expect the Raiders to continue to add these types of younger, fairly inexpensive players to the roster in this time of flux.