ALAMEDA – Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther doesn’t want to rotate cornerbacks as much as he has this season. He would like to establish a proper pecking order, with two every-down outside cornerbacks working with Leon Hall in the slot.
Rashaan Melvin and Gareon Conley have started and certainly played the most, with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie entering for a series or two. That was the case until Daryl Worley returned from suspension.
The 23-year old played a ton Sunday against the L.A. Chargers in his first game back. He did so largely in Conley’s spot. Worley played well, and could consequently earn more playing time moving forward.
“It’s a battle right now,” Guenther said. “Everybody’s competing for jobs. We’re going to go with the hot hand.”
Each outside cornerback has put good tape and bad out there, with the inconsistency that has led Guenther to give several an opportunity to claim a starting spot.
“I want to eventually get to two starting cornerbacks,” Guenther said. “Daryl was one of our best cornerbacks all offseason and he proved again on Sunday that he’s a high-level player. We’ll see how it goes with the snaps based on how guys are playing and the situations we’re facing.”
Conley was expected to be the team’s top cornerback this season, even with Melvin’s addition. He’s extremely talented and an excellent cover man, but has made some mistakes and some have wondering about his tackling ability.
“Gareon had a couple of struggles yesterday,” head coach Jon Gruden said Monday. “Trying to find a right mix. Trying to find a right mix at a lot of positions. Daryl Worley is a good player. I think he was second on our team in tackles. Daryl earned a right to be out there.”
The Raiders remain committed to developing Conley’s talent and will do so at a particular pace.
“He didn’t play as much last year, so he’s basically a rookie player,” Guenther said. “…I don’t want to give him too much right now. We’ll give him little, by little, by little, just like any rookie players. Gareon really only played 1-1/2 games last year and missed a lot of the offseason program.
"It’s no different that any young player. It’s a work in progress.”