Oakland Raiders: Bye Week Notes And Observations

3 of 10

September 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Mario Jr. Edwards (97) during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Ravens 37-33. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Time To Shine

You never want to see a player – especially a leader and team captain like Justin Tuck – go down with a season ending injury. The Raiders though, are going to have to make do without him for the rest of the season. And given that this is the last year of the two year deal he signed with Oakland, one has to wonder if he’s taken his last snap in Silver and Black – though, given the high level he continues to play at, it might not be a surprise to see him back next year.

More from Golden Gate Sports

Tuck’s injury will force second round pick Mario Edwards Jr. into the spotlight. Though Oakland seemed to have been taking a cautious developmental approach with Edwards, and limiting his playing time, Tuck’s injury will likely force the team to put him in a significant role on the defensive line.

The good news though, is that Edwards has really responded when called upon. Last week against Denver, Edwards played 50 snaps on the game – double what he normally averages. He had been filling in for defensive tackle Justin Ellis, but when Tuck was forced out of the game, Edwards slid over and manned his spot. To pretty good effect. On his first play in Tuck’s spot, Edwards teamed with Aldon Smith to bring Manning down.

Most saw the Raiders taking Edwards as high as they did to be a significant reach. They needed a pass rushing monster and they grabbed a guy who hadn’t had more than three sacks in a year at Florida State. What they saw in Edwards – and what most didn’t – was his pure athleticism and versatility. Traits that have served him well so far.

With Oakland playing in both 4-3 and 3-4 defensive fronts throughout a game, Edwards will be asked to shoulder different – and more – responsibilities. And to this point, he’s responded well. Last week was his first start and first real significant action of the year. He responded by tying for the team lead in tackles with six (three solo) and the sack he shared with Smith.

He’s been a minor contributor so far this year, but with his role set to expand significantly, Oakland needs him to rise to the occasion. With Tuck done for the year, the Raiders will need for Edwards to really step up his game and shine.

Next: Security, Security, Security...