On the Oakland Raiders, there’s no such thing as having one specific role, especially on defense.
Through five weeks of action, the Silver and Black have been hampered by injuries, suspensions, and various obstacles, which has required several players to adapt and become versatile. It’s something Head Coach Jon Gruden has demanded out of his players, and he talked Tuesday about some players stepping up against the Chicago Bears Sunday.
“You have to give Nick [Morrow] and [Tahir] Whitehead a lot of credit, they played the whole game,” Gruden said. “They played every play. They didn’t come off the field. They played great. That doesn’t undermine that we miss Vontaze, his leadership and his experience, play making and all that stuff. Nick and Whitehead, they didn’t come off the field the other night. They played every single play. Morrow had an interception. I think Whitehead did a great job of running the show. Those guys deserve credit.”
With Vontaze Burfict absent the last two games, the Raiders have asked for a lot out Whitehead and Morrow, but also several other position groups. Cornerback Nevin Lawson is returning from suspension and in light of that, Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther are going to get creative with Daryl Worley.
“We have a big picture for [Daryl] Worley. We think Worley is going to be a hybrid player for us,” Gruden explained. “A guy that can play at safety, at nickel, at left corner or right. As we go down the stretch here I think Worley’s role is going to expand. We’re hoping to get Isaiah Johnson, our fourth-round pick, back here on the practice field Monday so we can see where he is. We’d like to get him on the grass. He’s another big press guy that we like. We’re excited about getting our corners back at full strength. We’ll see how it goes.”
Worley has been a reliable contributor for the Raiders since joining the team last season. In 2019, the former West Virginia Mountaineer has 20 tackles, three passes defensed, and one forced fumble – he should also have an interception, but thanks to a questionable roughing the passer call against the Bears it was negated.
The play at safety has been solid despite the absence of promising rookie Johnathan Abram, but versatility is the name of the game. Following the bye, we’ll see how Gruden and Guenther utilize Nevin Lawson, and how Worley’s role will expand.