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Raiders report: New CB ‘blessed’ to be reunited with Antonio Pierce

Updated November 15, 2023 - 7:15 pm

It didn’t take cornerback Jack Jones long to get over the sting of being released by the New England Patriots this week.

Being claimed off waivers by the Raiders and his high school and college coach Antonio Pierce, the Raiders’ interim coach, helped the process.

“It stung for sure,” Jones said Wednesday after his first practice with the Raiders. “That was the team that drafted me. Your mindset is you’re going to spend the first four years there. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

“But this is a blessing. I’m not going to lie. I feel like everything happened for a reason, and I’m happy to be here, blessed to be here and ready to get to work.”

Jones, a fourth-round pick of New England in 2022 who played for Pierce at Long Beach Poly and Arizona State, did not get into specifics of his departure from New England.

“I would say it just wasn’t the best fit,” said Jones, whose tenure was marked by an off-the-field incident and rumors of discontentment. “I can’t speak too much about it because I’m not on the coaching staff. It just wasn’t the best fit.

“I still have some fire behind me. I kind of feel I have something to prove without going out of my way to try to prove it. I just want to show everybody I’m a good player and not someone you can just shoo away. I’m not saying that was the case with the Patriots. Whatever happened, it just didn’t work out.”

Jones said he is working diligently to get up to speed on the playbook and hopes to contribute as soon as possible.

Pierce believes Jones can do that.

“In high school, he was about 120 (pounds), and I think now he’s 170. He ain’t got much weight,” Pierce said jokingly about how much he’s grown since they met. “But listen, maturity, the kid’s been through a lot. … Nobody’s perfect, I don’t expect him to be perfect. That’s my job as well, to bring him along and our staff and our organization to help him if he needs be. But the football player is extremely gifted, and I expect him to do such.”

Injury report

Amik Robertson is in concussion protocol and did not practice Wednesday, while fullback Jakob Johnson was a full participant as he tries to return to action after missing last week’s game with a concussion.

Pierce said it was a good sign that he had seen Robertson around the facility before practice, smiling as wide as ever.

Two starters on the offensive line also sat out Wednesday. Left guard Dylan Parham was out with a calf injury, and left tackle Kolton Miller still has not practiced after missing Sunday’s game with a shoulder issue.

“Last week, I thought we had a chance (for Miller to play),” Pierce said. “I’m hoping this week is the same. Obviously, we’re a different team when he’s out on the field. He’s one of our best offensive linemen. And obviously he does not like missing games or practice.”

Linebacker Curtis Bolton was also absent due to illness.

Maxx Crosby was limited with what was listed as a knee injury, as has become the routine for the Raiders this season.

Defensive tackle Adam Butler (knee), linebacker Divine Deablo (ankle), cornerbacks Nate Hobbs (ankle) and Marcus Peters (knee), safety Roderic Teamer (hamstring) and offensive lineman Greg Van Roten (biceps/quad/triceps) were all limited.

Awards

Linebacker Robert Spillane’s pivotal interception late in Sunday’s game to help secure the win over the Jets also led to him securing the AFC defensive player of the week award.

He also had seven tackles and a sack.

Spillane has 81 tackles and a team-high three interceptions this season, though the big knock on him before signing with the Raiders was that he struggled in coverage.

Pierce, who began the year as the linebackers coach, said he talked to Spillane about that perception being a big reason why there wasn’t more demand for him on the free-agent market this offseason.

“But in the spring and OTAs and minicamp, training camp, that’s all we worked on, to be honest with you,” Pierce said. “Change of direction, being fluid with our hips, pass drops, catching the football, always doing ball drills. And that was just something that he emphasized, and I emphasized. We worked on it and now it’s coming to fruition, and obviously it’s paying off for us as a team.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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