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Tarver brings passion

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POSTED October 31, 2013 11:55 p.m.

ALAMEDA (AP) — Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver’s contributions to the Oakland Raiders this season are much bigger than that obscene gesture at the officials that got him into so much hot water.

Tarver has overseen a remarkable improvement on the defense while incorporating 10 new starters who mostly came in with little fanfare.

The Raiders went browsing through the bargain basement to bring in many of the newcomers, signing five free agents to one-year deals. Only the addition of Charles Woodson generated much interest while players like cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter, linebackers Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett and defensive linemen Pat Sims, Vance Walker and Jason Hunter were under-the-radar additions.

“Probably a lot of people outside of this area, outside of this building probably don’t know a lot about who these no-name guys are on defense but we have a lot of guys who are pretty good football players,” coach Dennis Allen said.

The man putting all those parts together is Tarver, who has a master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology and boundless energy that comes through on the sideline and in the meeting rooms.

Oakland ranks sixth in the league in rushing defense at 89.9 yards per game, fourth with 3.6 yards per carry and is the only team not to allow a run of at least 20 yards so far this season. They have held three opponents under 40 yards rushing after doing that just four times the past 10 seasons.

The focus on stopping the run has complemented a pass rush that has 21 sacks through seven games — matching the team’s total through 14 games a year ago. With an improved secondary that allows for more man coverage, the Raiders are blitzing 35 percent more this year than they did in Tarver’s first year as coordinator.

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