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Raiders quickly elevate Bresnahan to defensive coordinator

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders promoted assistant Chuck Bresnahan to defensive coordinator Monday, just weeks after bringing him back for a second stint with the organization.

The Raiders hired Bresnahan last month as a defensive assistant, but they didn't immediately specify his duties.

New coach Hue Jackson said he talked to some people outside the organization about the job, but he stuck with someone he had previously worked with in Cincinnati.

"The fact that I've had the chance to be in defensive meetings with Chuck and watch him lead the defensive staff made it an easy decision to name him our defensive coordinator," Jackson said in a statement released by the Raiders. "I am impressed with his passion, attention to detail and energy. This staff gives us the opportunity to have one of the top defenses in the NFL."

The Raiders have made significant changes on their defensive staff since Jackson replaced Tom Cable as coach in January. Hall of Famer Rod Woodson was brought on to coach the cornerbacks, and Greg Biekert was promoted to linebackers coach.

Woodson and Biekert played for Bresnahan during his first stint as defensive coordinator of the Raiders, from 2000 to 2003. Oakland won the AFC West in his first three seasons and went to the Super Bowl following his third year in 2002.

"This is an incredible opportunity for me to come back to the Raiders and work again where we had so many great years," said Bresnahan, who also was a defensive backs coach in Oakland in 1998 and 1999. "It's so exciting to be reunited with Hue Jackson because of the passion and energy that he brings. I'm also thrilled to be a part of this talented staff, many of whom I've shared previous success with."

The Raiders have been aggressive about keeping some of their key potential free agents on defense. They gave cornerback Stanford Routt a three-year, $31.5 million deal; signed defensive tackle Richard Seymour to a two-year, $30 million contract; placed an $11.312 million franchise tag on linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, who already has signed it; and agreed to a two-year, $8 million contract with defensive tackle John Henderson.

Oakland has two other key defensive free agents in Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and safety Michael Huff. Decisions on those two players won't be made until after a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

Regardless of what happens with Asomugha and Huff, the Raiders have some talented, young defenders whom they believe can be part of a stellar defense. Oakland's top two draft picks from last year, middle linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Lamarr Houston, started as rookies and showed promise.

Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly had his best season with seven sacks, and the Raiders have high hopes for safeties Tyvon Branch and Mike Mitchell, linebackers Trevor Scott and Travis Goethel, and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant.

Bresnahan's primary task will be to improve a run defense that has been a problem for years in Oakland. The Raiders allowed the fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL last season at 133.6 per game and have the worst run defense in the league since Bresnahan left before the 2004 season. Oakland has allowed 140.4 rushing yards per game over those seasons, with a league-worst 139 touchdowns on the ground.

Oakland did finish second in the league in pass defense and was tied for second with 47 sacks.

During Bresnahan's first tenure as defensive coordinator, the Raiders ranked 17th in rushing defense (117.2 yards per game), tied for 14th in scoring defense (20.5 points per game), tied for 22nd in total defense (331.3 yards per game), tied for 17th in turnovers forced (117) and tied for 12th in sacks (152).

Bresnahan spent last season as defensive coordinator for Florida in the UFL. He also was defensive coordinator for three years with the Bengals and coached as an assistant with the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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