When the Las Vegas Raiders signed Cory Littleton in free agency, there was a lot of hype over what he could bring to the defense. He was a Pro Bowler with the Los Angeles Rams and was considered one of the better all-around linebackers in the NFL. The Raiders really needed help at linebacker and Littleton was expected to fix that issue.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case as Littleton has played really poorly. He even acknowledged he hasn’t played well.
“The only thing I can do is do what is coached to me and try to put on the best performance I can. So far, it hasn’t been that great,” Littleton said Thursday. “That’s football. There’s upswings, there’s downswings … hopefully, get back on track and be the player I want to be.”
Littleton has proven in the past that he’s got really good ability. With the lack of an offseason to learn a new system, it appears that has hampered his development with the team. While he’s struggling now, it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t pick things up soon.
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Littleton Talks Missed Tackles
The most surprising area that Littleton has struggled with is his ability to tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, he had the best tackling grade of any defender in the NFL last season. However, he’s already missed six tackles this season and is tied for the league lead. The Raiders as a whole have missed 19 tackles and Littleton addressed the issue.
“There’s no real fix or solution or giving anybody no magic sauce … You do your job,” Littleton said. “We went into the game last week with the intent of just that … didn’t happen in our favor, a lot of guys missed plays, myself included, and you don’t want that. So you go into the next game expecting to not let it happen.”
Littleton’s tackling woes seem to almost defy logic. He went from being the best tackler in the NFL to one of the worst. That typically doesn’t happen to a player who should be barely entering his prime.
Littleton Happy to Have Nick Kwiatkoski Back
Perhaps getting some reinforcements will help Littleton figure things out. Nick Kwiatkoski was another big free-agent addition the Raiders made at linebacker and his role is arguably more important than Littleton’s. He wears the green dot and leads the defense while Littleton is supposed to be more of a playmaker. Kwiatkowski returned to practice this week it looks like he’s ready to return. Littleton is excited to have Kwiatkoski back.
“One, our guy’s got fresh legs. That’s always a positive,” Littleton said. “Nick … loves ball. Glad he’s back out there. He’s going to be a great contributor to the defense.”
Though Kwiatkoski only played briefly in Week 1, he did look good before he got hurt. The Raiders signed him early in free agency because they expected him to a defense maker.