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 which 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 last decade. Hunter's willingness to execute that skill, as well as his work ethic and demeanor, are what led him back to general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen.

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.

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 (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) carries a reputation of carrying out his assignments with enthusiasm.


Advertisement

``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 missing all of 2012 on injured reserve with a torn triceps injury. It happened at a time when Hunter had ascended to a starting position under Jack Del Rio, who replaced Allen as defensive coordinator.

Del Rio's observations were similar those of Allen when he spoke to reporters in training camp a year ago.

``Jason is a rugged defensive lineman, that's what we're looking for on our defensive line,'' Del Rio said. ``Every day he brings it with a passion. I haven't seen him yet not ramped up and ready to play hard and tough.''

The timing of the injury 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 m peers from around the league playing games. It made me more focused to take care of my body, do the right things.''

  • After taking a day off, the Raiders return to practice Thursday at 2:50 p.m.