Though the Las Vegas Raiders are 0-2 to start the season, the winless beginning isn’t entirely on the defense. Heading into the season, there was concern that a questionable defense could sink what should be a high-powered offense. Through two games, the offense has been worse than the defense.
However, injuries are beginning to pile up. Starting cornerback Anthony Averett is already on the Injured Reserve and linebacker Denzel Perryman missed Week 2 with an ankle injury. The team is getting thin at linebacker with two undrafted rookies on the active roster. It appears the team is interested in bringing in some veteran depth. According to The Score’s Jordan Schultz, the Raiders are bringing in linebacker Blake Martinez for a visit.
Notably, Martinez spent the last two seasons with the New York Giants and played under current Raiders defensive coordinators Patrick Graham. He was impressive in his first season under the coach, totaling 151 combined tackles and 3.0 sacks. Unfortunately, he was limited to three games last season due to a torn ACL. Martinez has been one of the most productive linebackers in the NFL over the last several years.
Prior to joining the Giants, Martinez played with the Green Bay Packers. He was a teammate of current Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams for four seasons. In 2017, he was the NFL’s co-leader in tackles with 144. If his health checks out, he’s a perfect fit with the Raiders. He knows Graham’s system and his style is very similar to Perryman’s. This is a no-brainer signing for the team if there’s mutual interest.
Raiders Injury Report
The Raiders were one of the healthiest teams in the NFL before the season started but now they’re among the most banged up. Week 1 starters Andre James, Tre’von Moehrig and Denzel Perryman all missed Week 1 due to injury. Some of the notable names to get injured in Week 2 are Bilal Nichols and Hunter Renfrow. Neither participated in practice on Wednesday due to injury.
The Raiders cannot afford to start the season by losing three straight games. Missing more key starters could be a recipe for a disaster. In addition to Renfrow and Nichols, Perryman and Moehrig have continued to miss practice. James returned Thursday and could be ready to play by Sunday. However, the Raiders could feasibly be without four key starts for Sunday’s matchup against the Tennessee Titans.
Graham Not Happy With the Pass Rush
The Raiders haven’t been getting any pass rush from their linebackers, which has been the case for years. One thing that’s interesting about a potential Martinez signing is that he has 13.0 career sacks. In his first year under Graham, he had 3.0 sacks. He could help bring an extra dimension to the pass rush if he signs with the team.
Graham was honest about the fact that the Raiders’ pass rush hasn’t been great thus far.
“We’re 0-2 right now. There’s been improvement, I will say that. Am I happy? No. Because we haven’t won,” Graham said Tuesday. “When we win, that’s when I’m happy, and even then, I’m slightly happy. We have some things to work on. I got to do a better job coaching and we’ll keep working on as it as we keep going through this process.”