ALAMEDA, Calif. — Arden Key has never faced Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
Already, he is a fan.
The Raiders rookie defensive end has studied the 15th-year NFL veteran this week. What has stood out most, he said Thursday, is the degree to which Rivers orchestrates protection calls at the line of scrimmage. And that is with an experienced center in Mike Pouncey.
“I’ve seen centers call out protections,” Key said. “That’s my first time ever seeing a quarterback do that. That’s impressive because he gives out the offensive calls. He does checks and points the linemen where they need to go. That’s very impressive.”
A bonus: Rivers is a large target.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was evasive in the pocket last Sunday, sidestepping sacks on multiple occasions. In the first half, Key delivered a moderate pop to the No. 1 overall pick. He then was flagged 15 yards for roughing the quarterback.
Rivers and Key are both 6 feet, 5 inches.
Mayfield is about 6 feet.
“This will be a little bit easier for me,” Key said.
Key is among those in the Raiders organization who disagreed with the roughing the quarterback penalty. The third-round pick slowed before making low-force contact with Mayfield, briefly wrapping his arms around him but quickly releasing.
“Oh, it wasn’t a roughing the passer,” Key said. “I don’t see what they saw. They said it was contact with the helmet, but clearly, my head was on the shoulder pad.”
Key is eager to grow from each NFL game. But in this instance, he found no lesson to derive from that penalty.
He doesn’t plan to change his game over it.
“You can’t,” Key said. “I feel like if you think too much, once you get to that place where you’re tackling the quarterback, you might miss him. You just have to shoot your shot, and whatever happens, happens. There’s nothing you really can control. They say they don’t want us to put our weight on (a quarterback), so you can control that. Other than that, it’s hard.”
— Defensive end Bruce Irvin (knee) was added to the injury report. He was one of seven players who were limited participants in practice. Running back Marshawn Lynch (abdomen), wide receiver Amari Cooper (foot), left tackle Kolton Miller (knee), center Rodney Hudson (ankle), right guard Gabe Jackson (pectoral) and defensive tackle Mo Hurst (shoulder) were the others.
— Left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) and safety Karl Joseph (knee) have yet to practice this week. Jon Feliciano is working with the starters in Osemele’s place.
— The Chargers reportedly used artificial crowd noise in practice Thursday. While something the franchise has done intermittently before certain home games over the past several years, the tactic reflects what is expected to be a pro-Raiders crowd Sunday at the StubHub Center. The Raiders used artificial crowd noise, too, on Thursday.