About a week ago, the Raiders linebacker group was pretty thin due to injuries to Nicholas Morrow and Javin White. But returning starter Corey Littleton now feels good about the group, especially with the recent additions of K.J. Wright and Denzel Perryman.
“It’s football. these guys have been playing football for a long time,” Littleton said. “They’re great additions to our room and honestly, they’ve made themselves comfortable where we feel comfortable with them at the same time and we’re all becoming buddies. Excited to have them here.”
Littleton knows a little bit about how they feel, having come to the Raiders last year as a free agent. He spent four years with the Rams before coming over to Las Vegas. In 2018, he went to the Pro Bowl and was named second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press.
But his first year with the Raiders didn’t go exactly how he hoped. He recorded only 56 tackles on the season with no sacks and no interceptions in 14 games.
“At the end of the day, nobody wants to have a bad performance,” he said. “That’s not why we play. We just want do our best. When you’re able to do things without necessarily thinking, you have fun. I’m excited to get back to that.”
And he’s definitely excited about this year’s defense.
“I would just say how everybody’s been able to play faster,” Littleton said. “Less thought, less thinking about what your assignment is or how you play against a certain concept or formation. It’s a lot more just playing football and ultimately having fun with it because you know what to do.”
Linebacker group will face big challenge in Ravens Lamar Jackson
The Raiders kick off the season Monday night at Allegiant Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, advancing to the Divisional Round last season before losing to the Buffalo Bills, 17-3.
The biggest challenge the Raiders face on defense is containing quarterback Lamar Jackson, who can beat you with his legs just as easily as he can with his arm.
“Duel threat quarterback,” Littleton said. “He can throw, he can run. He can do magic tricks apparently.”
But Littleton likes his team’s chances, particularly with a revamped defensive front that now includes Yannick Ngakoue, Gerald McCoy and Quinton Jefferson to go along with Clelin Ferrell, Johnathan Hankins and Maxx Crosby.
“We have dogs our there that are ready to hunt,” Littleton said. “They’re ready for this game. We’re ready for it.”
He’s also excited about playing in front of a packed house of 65,000 fans in Allegiant Stadium on a Monday night.
“Having fans back in the crowd is a big thing for us because honestly, we play football to give a show,” Littleton said. “To show our best attributes and everything we can do. It will be nice to do that in front of people.”
Former member of linebacker group finds new home
It didn’t take long for linebacker Tanner Muse, who was cut by the Raiders on Monday, to find a new home. NFL reporter Tom Pelissero reported that Muse has been signed by the Seattle Seahawks to their practice squad.
Muse was drafted in the third round last year by the Raiders after playing at Clemson. He had a foot injury that kept him off the field all of last season and was cut to make room for veteran linebacker K.J. Wright.
Barber happy to find a home
Running back Peyton Barber felt the blow of cutdown day for the Washington Football Team last week, but that dismay didn’t last long as he was picked up by the Raiders during the weekend.
“I was cut by Washington, then my agent gave me a call and asked he what I think about Las Vegas and I was happy to go,” Barber said.
Barber spent last year in Washington and four years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In his five years, he has 30 starts while playing in 79 games. He carried the ball 645 times for 2,245 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had 61 catches for 361 yards and two scores.
“It’s crazy. It’s wild to see how fast things can change for you,” he said. “You just have to be prepared and ready to go.”
Barber feels he can back up starter Josh Jacobs and provide similar versatility as Kenyan Drake.
“Every down back,” he said. “I can block, I can run the ball, catch the ball. I can play special teams. Anything you need me to do I can do.”