NAPA -- Living life on the edge as a defensive end isn't the most glamorous job in the NFL, but it suits Jason Hunter just fine.
The Raiders' starting left defensive end loves "setting the edge," a part of the game that doesn't carry with it the kind of fame and glory that comes from rushing the passer.
"Basically setting an edge is getting an extension on that tackle and knocking him back, that way it stops the line of scrimmage so the (running) back can't just get to the edge, and it forces him back inside to where the help is,'' Hunter said.
Setting edges has been an issue for a Raiders defense that has been run-challenged for the better part of the past decade. Right tackle Khalif Barnes, who has worked against Hunter throughout the offseason and training camp, thinks Hunter is more stout than his 6-foot-4, 270-pound build would suggest.
Offensive tackles blocking Hunter typically outweigh him by at least 30 pounds.
"He's thick, powerful, and he may look smaller, but he's very strong and has good hands,'' Barnes said.
In most cases, if Hunter has done his job, he hasn't made the tackle himself. Rather, he's set up an interior lineman or linebacker to make the hit.
"He's a guy who just tries to do his part,'' Barnes said. "If you try and do your part and then half of somebody else's, that takes away what you do by half. Do your part. It's a great mindset and the whole team needs to be like that.''
Hunter's willingness to set the edge, as well as his work ethic and demeanor, are what led him back to general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen.
McKenzie was a personnel executive in Green Bay when Hunter played with the Packers as an undrafted free agent out of Appalachian State from 2006 through 2008. When Allen was defensive coordinator in Denver in 2011, Hunter was a reserve defensive end, having played the season before in a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker.
On a Raiders defensive line that too often has failed in terms of maintaining gaps and position despite having well-regarded talent, Hunter brings a reputation of carrying out his assignments with enthusiasm.
"Jason loves football, and he enjoys competing,'' Allen said. "He likes the physical aspect of the game where you're not begging Jason to come out here and want to play. You're not begging Jason to get the pads on.''
Hunter was particularly excited to get the pads on this season after spending the 2012 season on injured reserve because of a torn triceps. It happened at a time when Hunter had ascended to a starting position under Jack Del Rio, who replaced Allen as defensive coordinator.
The timing could not have been worse.
"It really hurt me, man,'' Hunter said. "I thought I was having a real good training camp. It was hard, sitting at home, watching on TV and seeing all my peers from around the league playing games. It made me more focused to take care of my body, do the right things.''
Those who started practice but did not finish because of undisclosed injuries were defensive end Lamarr Houston and safety Brandian Ross.
"He is our starting center, he's done a nice job there,'' Allen said.