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With Three Early Sacks, Mario Edwards Jr. Enjoying Dynamic Start To 2017

Posted Oct 3, 2017

Mario Edwards Jr. already has three sacks through four games, and is in the most-productive stretch of his career as a Raider.

Mario Edwards Jr. believes that the Oakland Raiders defensive line is finding its mojo.

With four sacks in the team’s Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos, and 10 total through the first quarter of the season, the Silver and Black’s line has been a bright spot for not only Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.’s group, but for the Silver and Black as a whole.

Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack and his four sacks lead the Raiders, but very quietly, Edwards Jr. is having a banner that goes nearly toe-to-toe with No. 52’s.

His three sacks – which rank second on the team behind just Mack – is already a career high for No. 97, and after playing just two games a year ago, Edwards is starting to once again feel like himself.

“I think I’m just getting back to getting started, getting back to where I left off, and there’s a lot more to come,” said Edwards. “I’m just glad that I’m starting to get back in the swing of things, and I’m just ready for what I have in store later in the season.”

Operating primarily from the interior of the defensive line, Edwards has been the epitome of active, not only tallying the three aforementioned sacks, but pressuring the opposing quarterback in a variety of ways, forcing them outside the pocket, and into the waiting arms of Mack and Bruce Irvin.

Like the pass rush and coverage, the interior and the outside rush work in concert, and when they’re both getting after the quarterback, it typically spells disaster for opposing offenses.

And through the first quarter of the season, Head Coach Jack Del Rio has been pleased with what he’s seen from the Raiders defensive line, particularly against the Broncos, albeit in a losing effort.

“I thought the pass rush throughout the day was disruptive and good for us,” Del Rio said.

Edwards echoed the statement of his head coach, and has also been happy with what the group of Raiders interior linemen has accomplished through the first portion of the season.

“It’s great, man,” Edwards said. “That’s the great thing about our [defensive] line, is that we can have a great rotation, and we don’t fall off. With the guys, Denico [Autry], Eddie [Vanderdoes], all those other guys that came in, those guys did their jobs, and they held it down.”

While it’s still early in the season, there’s an argument to be made that Edwards is in the midst of his most-productive stretch as a Raider, but ask his defensive teammate Karl Joseph, and everyone else is now seeing what he sees on a daily basis.

“Mario’s a dog,” Joseph explained. “He shows that [stuff] every play, run game, pass game. He’s a dog. He’s a problem. I’m sure that everybody that watches film, that’s somebody they have to worry about. I didn’t get too much of a chance to see him last year, but I’m very impressed, man. He’s doing a great job for us.”

With Mack and Irvin patrolling the edge, Edwards and his teammates along the interior of the line will certainly have their chances to keep imparting their will on opposing quarterbacks, which is good news for the entirety of the Raiders defense, particularly if No. 97 and the big men in the middle keep rolling.

“It’s the third, fourth game of the season, everybody is kind of shaking off the cobwebs,” Edwards said. “Kind of getting into their own.”