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Raiders seek leadership, sacks from Lamarr Houston

ALAMEDA — Lamarr Houston's time in the shadows of the Oakland Raiders defensive line is over.

After spending his first three seasons as the young guy on a veteran line dominated by Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, Houston is being counted on to lead Oakland's front.

He has moved from left defensive end to the right side, where he is being counted on as the primary pass rusher on a defense that has no proven player when it comes to getting to the quarterback.

He has also stepped into the leadership void on a defense that will have nine new starters from last season.

"Fortunately I was here with Seymour and Tommy and they taught me a lot," Houston said. "I've been learning and I'm still learning. But being one of the older guys on the line, I just feel it's my job to help the other guys to come along and get toward the vision we want as a team."

The Raiders overhauled their defense after it struggled a year ago in the first season under defensive-minded head coach Dennis Allen and coordinator Jason Tarver. Seymour, Kelly, Rolando McClain and Michael Huff were all cut. Philip Wheeler, Matt Shaughnessy and Desmond Bryant were among those who left in free agency.

In total, the players who won't be on the active roster for Sunday's opener against the Indianapolis Colts accounted for 79 percent of the defensive snaps a year ago.

"He's running that show there up front," Tarver said. "We're excited about what he's doing. He's the one that's running that group and he does a good job with it."

As much as the Raiders need leadership, they really need a pass rush from Houston. The entire defensive roster accounted for just 16 sacks in the NFL last year and lacks a proven pass rusher.

Houston rushed the passer from the left side more than 90 percent of the time last season, according to game-tracking by the Website Pro Football Focus.

"He's demonstrated that he's got the best ability as a rusher," Allen said. "He's a little bit more of a power rusher than he is a speed rusher. But I really think he's a guy that can help getting some pressure on the quarterback."

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