NAPA — Twenty minutes earlier than the Raiders’ joint follow with the Lions on Tuesday, Mario Edwards Jr. obtained pass-rushing recommendation from Corridor of Fame defensive sort out Warren Sapp.
Sapp, who gained a Tremendous Bowl with Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay and spent the final 4 years of his profession with the Raiders, in all probability had some phrases of knowledge the yet-to-break out fourth-year Raider may gain advantage from. Edwards wouldn’t expose precisely what transfer Sapp harped on, however mentioned he executed that transfer to perfection in follow when beating Lions middle and 2018 first-rounder Frank Ragnow to strain the quarterback.
“We simply saved repeating it and repeating it and I simply tried it,” Edwards mentioned of his pre-practice session with Sapp. “It labored.”
“Simply to do a sure transfer and to make it possible for as soon as I do it, to promote it actual good after which rip,” Edwards mentioned of what Sapp informed him. “It labored, labored good for me … positively going to proceed to place it in my arsenal.”
Edwards will want as many methods in his arsenal as attainable this season. There’s a motive the Raiders drafted two defensive tackles in P.J. Corridor and Maurice Hurst, and signed veteran Ahtyba Rubin for added competitors. The center of the defensive position was arguably Oakland’s worst place group a season in the past, with Eddie Vanderdoes, Justin Ellis and Treyvon Hester failing to muster any actual risk on the inside. Denico Autry, the Raiders’ greatest defensive sort out in 2017, signed with the Colts in free company.
Edwards performed defensive finish the primary three years of his profession after the Raiders used a 2015 second-round decide on him, however he’ll primarily play defensive sort out in 2018 with Bruce Irvin transferring to defensive finish, Oakland drafting Arden Key and Tank Carradine signing in free company. Staying wholesome is precedence No. 1 for Edwards – he’s performed solely 30 video games in three seasons – and he’ll have to parlay that good well being into the primary actually impactful season of his profession if he desires to remain forward of the rookie defensive tackles.
“He’s had some actually good practices right here. He’s flashed at instances,” Gruden mentioned. “He’s confirmed some penetration and quickness. It’s a really aggressive scenario now with Maurice Hurst and P.J. Corridor again. We’re joyful to have him Mario out right here wholesome and rolling right here once more.”
Final season, Edwards tallied two complete sacks within the first two video games and three within the first 4. He solely recorded half a sack the remainder of the common season. Edwards missed video games late within the season towards the Cowboys and Eagles on account of harm, however returned for the season finale towards the Chargers.
Enjoying 14 video games in 2017 was a serious enchancment from the 2 video games he performed in 2016. Now in a contract yr, Edwards simply desires to play all 16 for the primary time in 4 years.
“I simply did what I needed to do, engaged on staying wholesome,” Edwards mentioned of his offseason. “I feel as soon as that occurs all the things else will handle itself.”
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Edwards thinks he can play defensive finish, defensive sort out and nostril sort out this season to showcase versatility he hasn’t but displayed. He’s enticed by the actual fact Paul Guenther’s protection options the three-technique as its penetrator, so perhaps we’ll truly see Edwards persistently get into opposing backfields as an alternative of only for the primary 4 video games.
However nothing Edwards would possibly have the ability to do on the sector issues until he’s truly lively on recreation day.
Like he mentioned, that’s step one, and he can solely hope the outcomes comply with so he doesn’t get surpassed by two rookies.