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Oakland defensive lineman Pat Sims hopes better talent, depth result in more wins

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NAPA, Calif. - If Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Pat Sims decides to go into broadcasting, it will have to be through satellite radio.

The 310-pound veteran isn't shy about offering his views on any topic, and his responses are raw and unfiltered.

Sims was that way a year ago when he openly questioned his future in Oakland and bemoaned the team's losing ways. He eventually signed a one-year deal worth $1.45 million to come back.

Nothing's changed since.

Sims is still one of the most outspoken players on the Raiders roster. Only now he's got more support along the defensive line and better depth behind him.

Asked if Oakland's defence will be the identity of the team because of all the changes made to the offence, Sims laughed.

"I don't give a care how good or how bad the offence is, defence is always going to be the identity," he said. "If you have the best defence, it really doesn't matter what kind of offence you have. I mean it does ... but Baltimore did it."

What about the addition of first-round pick Khalil Mack, who has been impressive through the first two weeks of training camp?

"Best rookie in the draft, period," Sims said.

The veteran defensive tackle also had a little fun with fourth-round pick Justin Ellis, a 335-pound interior lineman who carries the nickname "Jelly".

"Jelly's big, quick and strong ... kind of like me," Sims said. "He's going to be a great player. Not as quick as me though."

Sims is the only returning starter on Oakland's defensive line.

The Raiders overhauled their defence for a second consecutive year, bringing in veterans Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley and defensive tackle Antonio Smith to join Sims up front. Tuck, Woodley and Smith have a combined five Super Bowl appearances and three championship rings.

Oakland also drafted Ellis and signed C.J. Wilson to go with holdover backup Stacy McGee.

Sims is still the focal point in the middle of the line.

"I've seen a different demeanour out of Pat Sims this year, maybe a little bit different focus," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "He's come in and really competed hard and he's playing well for us right now. We're excited about (him)."

That depth is critical because Sims is coming off a season in which he started all 16 games and was on the field for 693 plays — nearly 150 more than he had any other season.

"We've got depth this year, something we didn't have last year," Sims said. "We couldn't sub. Some packages last year we only had a first team. We didn't have anybody to come in after us. So it's great to have somebody come in and give you a breather."

Sims had two sacks and 49 tackles in 2013, the second-most since his rookie season of 2008 when he was a third-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals.

He had his best game of the season, and possibly of his career, during a Week 16 loss to San Diego when Sims made 13 tackles and one sack.

Four days later, however, Sims sounded very much like he had designs on playing elsewhere in 2014. Though he didn't come out and say it, Sims was unsure if the Raiders wanted him back or if he wanted to come back.

In the end the seventh-year veteran signed with Oakland, but not until after the flurry of off-season moves that also landed quarterback Matt Schaub and running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

"We started something and I just wanted to finish it," Sims said. "They wanted me to be a part of it so why not come back and finish it. We've got guys who can play many positions so (opponents) will never know where we're lining up at."

Notes: The Raiders signed LB Spencer Hadley and S Larry Asante. To make room, the team waived/injured S Shelton Johnson and LB Marshall McFadden. ... Charlie DeGrange, an 8-year-old who recently began treatment for an inoperable brain tumour, broke the huddle to end practice.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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