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Raiders' Huff settles in at cornerback

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Michael Huff, lockdown corner?

Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen is not willing to go that far.

"Listen, I'm not ready to put him in the Hall of Fame yet," Allen said. "I don't think Willie Brown has anything to worry about, but (Huff) has improved. That's what we expect, and that's what we will continue to expect: that every day he has an opportunity to go out there and get a little bit better each week."

Huff, who spent the first six years of his NFL career as a strong safety and then a free safety, was shifted full time to cornerback in Week 3. The Raiders lost starting cornerback Ron Bartell in Week 1 with a broken left shoulder blade, and the other starting cornerback, Shawntae Spencer, went down in Week 2 to a foot injury.

Huff spent the next two weeks getting torched by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning before Oakland headed into its bye week.

"At the time, I didn't think so, but now that I look back on it, going against Ben and all those fast (Steelers) receivers and Peyton, one of the smartest Hall of Fame quarterbacks, was definitely good for me," Huff said.

Things got much better for Huff in the Raiders' 23-20, post-bye loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He got an interception off quarterback Matt Ryan, and his coverage was much better. The past two weeks, against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars, Huff has been in pass coverage for 82 plays and has given up one reception for 2 yards.

Bartell, who is practicing again and could return as soon as Nov. 11, has been impressed with Huff's adjustment. It's common practice for cornerbacks to move to safety as they advance in age -- the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Ronde Barber is a prime example -- but it seldom if ever happens the other way.

"Actually, I can't think of anyone who's done it," Barber told Bay Area reporters by conference call in advance of his team's Sunday game in Oakland.

Bartell said, "I kid (Huff) all the time, I think he's a hell of a lot better corner than he is a safety. I've been impressed with Huff. That's a tough thing to ask of a guy. He's gotten better every game, and he takes it serious, he's always asking questions."
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