weather icon Partly Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Next-man-up mentality has taken hold with Raiders

In spite of the rash of injuries, the Raiders have been able to keep their head above water thanks to the development and contributions of some young players.

Reserve offensive lineman Denzelle Good has admirably filled holes at both right tackle and left guard in place of Trent Brown and Richie Incognito.

Brandon Parker came off the bench last week to fill in for Brown and his backup, Sam Young. On Sunday Parker played left tackle in place of Kolton Miller.

Young, who has had trouble finishing games in a backup role, got through all of Sunday as the replacement for Brown at right tackle.

In each case, while the performance may not have completely mimicked the starter being replaced, the level of play was more than respectable.

“We’re hoping that our tackles can return healthy together soon,” Gruden said. “But in the meantime, you gotta tip your cap to Brandon Parker, who has played right tackle and left tackle in consecutive weeks, and Sam Y0ung has given us some critical snaps.”

It’s created an enormous amount of respect and belief throughout the locker room.

“I’m really proud of the guys who have stepped up, really proud of our coaching staff for getting those guys ready,” said Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. “Sometimes, when the starters get all the reps, the other guys are forgotten about during game week, but not here. Everyone is coached as if they’re a starter and we’ve needed it, so it’s been cool.”

Added Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby: “Our depth is amazing. Guys injured at almost every level of our team, and it’s like the next-man-up mentality and that’s what coach Gruden always puts in our heads. It doesn’t matter who’s up, we’re all on the roster for a reason and everybody’s got to step up when their name is called. That’s what we’ve been doing all year.”

It’s the result of the most competitive training camp in the three years Gruden has been back with the Raiders.

“We had a hard time cutting down to 53, ” Gruden said. “The guys that made this team deserve to make this team and they’re gonna be asked to play.”

That was the case again on Sunday when second-year cornerback Isaiah Johnson came up big with two pass breakups in the end zone to save the day against the Chargers. He did so in emergency relief of Trayvon Mullen, who went down with a hamstring injury, and after playing sparingly over the first seven games of the season.

The question now is, did Johnson’s last-second heroics and solid play on Sunday earn him more playing time.

If so, ideally it will be in support of Mullen and Damon Arnette, the two starters the Raiders hope to get on the field together on Sunday against the Broncos rather than in lieu of either player.

“It was good to see Isaiah make some plays,” Gruden said. “He’s still a work in progress, but he is a work in progress.”

Gruden also expressed hope for rookie cornerback Amik Robertson, who seems to be cracking the door open for an expanded role.

“We’d like to get Amik Robertson more snaps as well,” Gruden said.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore onTwitter.

Like and follow Vegas Nation