As part of the Raiders’ preparation heading in to their game Thursday night against the Los Angeles Chargers, interim defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli took his unit to the movies.
Marinelli cued up a video of the things he wants to see in his first game taking over for Paul Guenther. He’ll need everything he can get against the Chargers, as four starters were declared out Wednesday as the Raiders went through final preparations: strong safety Johnathan Abram (concussion), linebacker Nicholas Morrow (concussion), defensive end Clelin Ferrell (shoulder) and cornerback Damon Arnette (concussion).
As Marinelli explained Wednesday, he has a heavy emphasis on things that don’t require talent – effort, pursuit, gang-tackling.
So the Raiders got an eyeful of John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Marinelli coached the defensive line. They saw Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher and Peanut Tillman from when Marinelli ran the defense with the Chicago Bears.
“He’s been able to show us some videos of some of his old teams and the effort and physicality they play with,” defensive tackle Maurice Hurst said during a teleconference Wednesday. “Some of those Buccaneers teams and the Bears teams, he showed some great videos of playing hard, hitting hard, making turnovers. But there’s only so much you can do in a short week. ”
Hurst said things were “simplified” with the limited prep time and said “I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to show what we can do this week.”
Coach Jon Gruden, who fired Guenther and promoted Marinelli in hopes that a “new voice” would help a struggling unit with three games to play, believes the defense is getting the message. The Raiders are ranked 30th in scoring defense (30.1 points per game), 25th in yardage (384.2) and have just 15 sacks in 13 games
“Everybody responds well to Rod. It’s not like he’s a new guy coming in, ”Gruden said. “He gets the correct response, a lot of respect. I think people trust him. He’ll do a good job. It will be a tall order for him obviously with our defense, but I know he’s looking forward to the challenge. ”
With Abram, Morrow, Ferrell and Arnette out, a look at players who will need to step in to the breach.
Dallin Leavitt: Primarily a special teams player, Gruden said Leavitt along with Erik Harris, as Jeff Heath is on injured reserve. Some alignments could call for Lamarcus Joyner playing as a deep safety rather than in the slot. ‘
Cory Littleton: Snap counts had been reduced since he went on the COVID-19 list, with Morrow being the Raiders best defensive player over the last four games. Littleton will rarely leave the field now, along with Nick Kwiatkoski, which was the plan when the season began. Raekwon McMillan is available for when the Raiders go to three linebackers. ‘
Carl Nassib: A healthy scratch the last two games, Nassib like Littleton was a big-ticket free agent signer who has underperformed. With Ferrell out of the lineup, Nassib will play along with Maxx Crosby, Arden Key, Vic Beasley and Chris Smith.
Daryl Worley: Worley has played outside corner slot corner and even a little safety. He was signed Dec. 9 after being cut by Dallas and then Buffalo. He played for the Raiders in 2018-19. Gruden called him a “quick study” but also conceded they weren’t going to overload him with responsibilities. Without Arnette, Nevin Lawson has started along with Trayvon Mullen. Isiah Johnson, who made the game-ending play in the end zone when the Raiders beat the Chargers on Nov. 8, could also see a bigger role.
“I don’t want to give away the game plan, but he will play in the game, based on how the chargers came out will determine how much he plays,” Gruden said.
Marinelli said Tuesday he had a good idea of who would play and who wouldn’t.
“We’ve feel we’ve got a good handle on who’s up. I think at that point, you show belief in men. And we’re going to get it done, ”Marinelli said.
AND SO ON
– Edge rusher Takk McKinley, the former UCLA and Kennedy-Richmond star who came off injured reserve, will be inactive against the Chargers.
“We really haven’t had pracitice,” Gruden said. “We’ll try to get him up against Miami if all things work out.”
– Other than the four players who were listed as out, the only one given an injury designation for the game was Lawson, who was listed as questionable with an illness.
– Updated NFL COVID-19 regulations are now requiring 10 days away as well as two negative tests before returning for players who are symptomatic. Henry Ruggs III was placed on the list Wednesday and won’t face the Chargers, but it’s not known if he has symptoms or not. The Raiders return to action on Saturday, Dec. 26 in Week 16 against Miami.