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PRO FOOTBALL / DAILY REPORT : RAIDERS : Better Offense Helps Defense

September 16, 1993|STEVE SPRINGER

Defensive lineman Howie Long, who has received his share of accolades in 13 NFL seasons, has no trouble sharing the accolades being accorded the Raider defense for its strong start.

Asked for the big changes this season, Long replied, "Jeff Hostetler and the special teams.

"By getting a lead, the offense allows us to dictate. It allows us to shine and people have shined. We've been so successful, it's almost unbelievable."

The Raider offense has not only given the defense a lead to work with in the Raiders' two games, but the offense has also taken some of the workload off the defense by holding onto the ball for long periods of time.

"As a defense," Long said, "we have gas in the tank in the fourth quarter because we haven't spent it in the first quarter."

Long also had praise for fellow lineman Anthony Smith, who has six sacks in the two games.

"I don't think he's the quickest defensive end," Long said, "but his closing speed the last five yards is as good as that of anyone in the game."

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Running back Nick Bell, who has missed the two games because of a hamstring pull, took part in practice Wednesday.

"We'll watch him closely," Coach Art Shell said. "We want to make sure he's capable of handling things with that leg. It's easy to say he's ready to go, but when you get out there and start doing it, it's a little different."

Asked if Bell would immediately get his starting job back, Shell replied, "It's not important who starts."

Translation: Greg Robinson figures to hold onto the starting tailback job Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

Will receiver/return man Rocket Ismail make his long-awaited debut Sunday?

"We expect he'll play some this week," Shell said. "We are going to utilize him a little bit hopefully. He'll probably get a couple of shots in there."

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