Corey Liuget is working his way north.
After six seasons with the then-San Diego Chargers, followed by two more with the team once they relocated to Los Angeles, the veteran defensive tackle signed with the Oakland Raiders Sunday, just a few days before their preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks.
“Not at all,” said Liuget with a chuckle when asked if he thought he’d ever end up as a Raider. “I didn’t plan on leaving that place – it’s kind of paradise down in San Diego – but now I’m here.”
And although it might take a little while for Liuget to get accustomed to his new colors – and his new number – the University of Illinois product is already feeling comfortable with what he’ll be asked to do in Paul Guenther’s scheme.
“I fit perfect,” Liuget explained. “It’s a one-gap, penetrating defense, which is what I love, and for me, that’s my style of defense, and that’s what we had down with the Chargers the past couple years, so I’m just super excited to be in it now.”
“Well, we are a one-gap, 4-3 defense,” added Head Coach Jon Gruden. “Last year, when we came here, we were struggling to put the pieces together being a 3-4 team for a few years. Liuget is a legitimate 3-technique and can also be a penetrator as a nose. He can play heavy on the center in your sub packages, three-down alignments. He’s smart. I think he’s got 25 career sacks, so he gives us another veteran player with inside pass rush ability. He can bat down passes, play with a motor. We are thrilled to have him. We are going to try and get him in great shape to get him ready as soon as possible.”
That said, Liuget’s arrival in Silver and Black – particularly considering the timing – will not be without its challenges.
“The challenge is really just getting to know the audibles and the checks,” he explained. “That’s the toughest part, and understanding that when you have a play, there’s a chance it may change.”
Regardless of any learning curve that Liuget will have to deal with in Northern California, with eight years of NFL experience under his belt, the 29 year old is now the most experienced defensive tackle on the Raiders roster.
And although his career in Silver and Black is still in its infancy, that experience automatically gives Liuget room to speak to a group of defensive tackles that are still on the front nine of their pro careers.
“That’s the thing that we have to continue to do, just push the pocket,” Liuget said. “When it’s third down, passing situation, we have to go and understand when it’s a pass down, and that’s one thing I want to bring to this front and to this defense too, just understanding the pass rush and how to get off that ball and get the quarterback.”
Coach Gruden, Liuget, and the rest of the Raiders wrap up the 2019 preseason Thursday night in Seattle against the Seahawks, and while it remains to be seen whether or not No. 51 suits up, he’ll be ready if his number is called.
“I’m not sure, that’s up to Coach Gruden,” Liuget said when discussing his possible activity Thursday night. “I’m here. Whatever he tells me to do. If he wants me out there, I’ll go out there.”
The Raiders end the week in Alameda, Calif. with a day of practice in preparation for their preseason matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.