ALAMEDA, Calif. — Massive defensive tackle Anthony Rush has stood out on film through the Raiders’ first two preseason games.
It hasn’t always been so easy for him to get noticed.
After a stellar two seasons at Alabama-Birmingham that followed two years at Northeast Mississippi Community College, Rush wasn’t selected in this year’s draft.
“Most definitely,” the 6-foot-5-inch, 340-pounder said when asked after practice Tuesday whether he felt overlooked. “I didn’t go to a Power Five school. I didn’t have the easy route. I had to go the (junior college) route, so I just had to take my own route. Now I’m on the same stage as everybody else, so I just have to show what I can do.”
Things haven’t come much easier for the 22-year-old North Carolina native in his brief time in the NFL.
He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after the draft but was released July 27, then caught on with the Raiders on Aug. 1 with training camp well underway.
“That was a crazy week,” he said. “I got released by the Eagles and went home for two days and then went to Detroit for a workout. They said they were interested in signing me, so they kept me overnight to see if they were going to get rid of someone to bring me in. They didn’t. Oakland called me, and I was on the plane in an hour.”
The Raiders are glad to have him. With several defensive linemen battling injuries, Rush received plenty of reps throughout camp and has made the most of the opportunity.
In the team’s first preseason game, a 14-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, Rush had three tackles, all of them at or behind the line of scrimmage.
“Anthony Rush is a 340-pound guy that really took advantage of his snaps,” coach Jon Gruden said last week. “Caused some tackles for loss, made a couple of plays and pushed the pocket pretty good. We like him.”
Rush now finds himself with a legitimate chance to make the roster.
“Being undrafted, you could be here one day and somewhere else the next,” he said. “I’ve learned that. I really feel like this is a good fit. Hopefully things work out for me. I’ll keep pushing, and I feel like they will.”
Gruden still isn’t sure who will make the trip to Canada for Thursday’s game in Winnipeg against the Green Bay Packers, but he doesn’t anticipate the field conditions being an issue, as they have been at times in games played outside the United States.
The Raiders had representatives inspect the turf at IG Field, and Gruden said he’s confident it is up to standards.
“I didn’t examine it myself, but it’s a new stadium and a great opportunity for us to make some friends,” he said.
For a portion of the time practice was open to the media Tuesday, the Canadian national anthem was playing on speakers that usually blast mostly hip-hop.
Wide receiver Tyrell Williams was one of several players absent from Tuesday’s practice.
“We have a bug going around here,” Gruden said. “We have a lot of guys that aren’t feeling great. I don’t know that he’ll play or not play.”
Receiver J.J. Nelson looks closer to doubtful with an ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines Tuesday.
Rookie safety Johnathan Abram had a wrap on his arm for what Gruden called an “irritated wrist.” Defensive end Maxx Crosby is still dealing with a broken hand.
“We’re banged up a little bit,” Gruden said. “We’ve had a physical training camp. Hopefully some of these guys will be able to make the trip.”