The Las Vegas Raiders defense has had some tough moments to start the season, including many injuries to starters. In Week 4 against the Denver Broncos, the team had to keep out starting cornerback Rock Ya-Sin but got reinforcements with the return of Pro Bowl linebacker Denzel Perryman. He immediately made an impact in run defense but didn’t make it through the whole game before having to leave due to a concussion.
Perryman is now in the protocol, per head coach Josh McDaniels, which means he could miss time. The Raiders can’t afford to be limited at linebacker with a Week 5 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs looming. With that in mind, the team has signed linebacker Blake Martinez, per Jordan Schultz of The Score.
Las Vegas brought the veteran linebacker in for a visit two weeks ago and they were able to iron out a deal. Martinez missed all but three games last year due to a torn ACL. He has a familiarity with Patrick Graham’s defense so there shouldn’t be much of a learning curve but it remains to be seen what kind of shape he is in. If he can return to the form he was at before the injury, he could make a quick impact for the Raiders.
Background on Martinez
Martinez originally came into the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2016 where he played with current Raiders star Davante Adams for four seasons. He’s been one of the most productive linebackers in the NFL throughout his career and was the league’s co-leader in tackles for the 2017 season with 144.
After four years in Green Bay, Martinez joined the New York Giants where he played under Graham for two seasons. In 2020, he had a very strong season. He had 151 combined tackles and 3.0 sacks. Similar to Perryman, he’s a tackling machine who isn’t the best in coverage but he has more upside as a pass rusher. He has 13.0 career sacks. That might bring a new dynamic to the defense that the Raiders didn’t have before. Outside of Perryman, the team’s linebackers have left a lot to be desired. If Martinez has fully recovered from his torn ACL, he could provide a serious boost to the defense.
Maxx Crosby Believes Raiders Defense Is Improving
With four games getting played, the Raiders have one of the weaker defenses in the NFL. They’ve allowed 25.0 points per game, which is the 10th-worst in the league. However, they’ve shown some positive signs in recent weeks. They shut out the Tennesee Titans in the second half of their Week 3 matchup and the defense played great against the Broncos in Week 4. Defensive end Maxx Crosby is happy to see the defense show improvement but still believes there’s a lot of work to be done.
“The first couple weeks, I feel like we just weren’t gelling as a total team. We’ve been this close every time,” Crosby said after Sunday’s win, via Raiders.com. “Today, it still wasn’t perfect, but it was better, and we helped each other out. That’s really all we can do. I’m just proud of the guys. I know they played their ass off today.”
The defense will have its toughest test yet in Week 5 as they face a Chiefs team that is averaging 32.3 points per game, which is the second most in the NFL.