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Raiders continue overhaul

The SportsXchange

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- These aren't your same old Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders will have as many as eight new starters on defense after undergoing significant roster turnover in the offseason.

At Monday's first session of this week's organized team activities, veteran safety Tyvon Branch was asked if he knew the names of all of his teammates.

"You know what? I won't sit here and lie to you all and say I do," he said. "It's still a learning process, but we're building right now. I know all the defensive guys, but the offensive guys I don't know 'em all yet."

Some of the team's changes aren't conventional. Converted running back Taiwan Jones, who played sparingly during his first two seasons on offense, spent his first full practice at cornerback.

Raiders head coach Dennis Allen liked Jones' speed and his aggressive play as a leading tackler on special teams and talked to him about switching from offense to defense during the offseason.

"DA called me, and he asked me how would I feel about making the change to defense, and I told him, at first I thought I would be upset because I couldn't show everybody what kind of running back I could be, but really my mindset is, 'Whatever I can do to help the team,'" Jones said. "I'm a competitor and I like to compete, so I'm just glad I'm on the team, so I'm going to work hard wherever he needs me."

Jones said he thought playing cornerback would extend his career.

Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, who normally does not attend voluntary sessions, was in attendance at the first OTA and has been regularly attending the offseason program.

Players who were unable to practice included weak-side linebacker Miles Burris (knee), return specialist Josh Cribbs (knee), tight end Nick Kasa (hamstring) and cornerback Tracy Porter (calf).

Quarterback Kyle Padron and running back Deonte Williams did not attend as per NFL rules because their schools are on the quarter system and their classes have not graduated.
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