For the first time since 2014, the Las Vegas Raiders are headed to New England to face off against the Patriots. The silver and black haven’t beaten the team since 2002 and are hoping to change that this year. The Patriots were supposed to be bad this year with the loss of Tom Brady but that hasn’t been the case. In fact, the game on Sunday might be the toughest test the Raiders have had yet this season.
With a few notable offensive starters out for the Raiders, they’ll need their defense to step up. One of their best contributors has been defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, who is responsible for the team’s only sack this season. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had some high praise for the young defender, via Anthony Galaviz of the Fresno Bee:
Yeah, well, Hurst is a disruptive player. He’s undersized and doesn’t a lot of length, but I’d say he has unusual quickness and his leverage to be disruptive, as you mentioned. So, it’s a little bit of a different type or style of player, both physically and I’d say his playing characteristics. So, from that standpoint, for the offensive linemen, it’s not the kind of guy that they’re used to blocking. Something that takes some adjustment and getting used to, depending on the player’s experience and the physical qualities that the offensive lineman has, as well, in the matchup. Yeah, he’s a little bit different but I wouldn’t say that affects his ability to be disruptive or to be effective. But, his quickness, his explosion, his leverage, those are all things that in his favor and he utilizes those to his advantage.
Hurst has been an unsung hero for the Raiders defense. Despite hardly ever starting, he’s been one of the team’s most effective pass rusher since coming into the NFL. Belichick has taken notice of him so maybe it’s time for the Raiders to put a little more trust in his abilities.
Hurst Grew up Patriots Fan
Sunday’s game is a bit of a homecoming for Hurst. He’s from Massachusetts and grew up a fan of the Patriots, according to CBS Boston.
“He grew up loving the Patriots,” Hurst’s mother Nicole Page said. “He grew up watching Tom Brady.”
Despite the fact that he grew up a fan of the team, that shouldn’t stop him from trying to get to Cam Newton on every snap.
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Belichick Praises Raiders Defense
It’s been a rough start to the season for the Raiders defense. They made a lot of big additions this past offseason but not many of them have started to make a big impact yet. However, Belichick thinks the group is better than they’re getting credit for.
“The players that they’ve added, the pass rushers last couple years there with Crosby, Ferrell and then the guys in a secondary there with Abram, Mullen and Arnette to go with [Lamarcus] Joyner and [Erik] Harris, very experienced players back there,” Belichick said, via Bernd Buchmasser of Pats Pulpit. “They’ve got a lot of experience at linebacker with [Cory] Littleton and [Nicholas] Morrow and those guys, [Nick] Kwiatkoski, if he plays; [Johnathan] Hankins inside is tough guy to block.
“They’re very good on third down, in the red area, and in two-minute situations. I think those are the most critical situations in the game. Now, again, he’s taken new players out there and I don’t think they’re where they’re going to be. But you can see what they’re doing. You can see them making progress and you can see that the players are well-coached and they are put in good positions.”
The defense certainly has a good amount of talent and they’ve stepped up at times. That said, the group needs to be more consistent. Cam Newton is the most dynamic quarterback they’ve faced yet and presents some different challenges. It will be interesting to see if they can step up on the road.