Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Jon Gruden continue to bolster the secondary.
Thursday, just 24 hours before the Silver and Black hosted the Green Bay Packers in the third preseason tilt of 2018, the team signed veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, bringing more leadership and experience to a relatively young group.
He joins the team after previous stops in Arizona, Philadelphia, Denver, and most recently New York where he spent four seasons as a Giant. Over the course of his 10 seasons in the NFL, Cromartie has been named to the Pro Bowl twice, and has totaled 30 interceptions, seven touchdowns, 150 passes defensed, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and 2.5 sacks.
Entering his 11th season, Cromartie waited through a majority of the summer ready to join a team, but nothing materialized until McKenzie and Gruden came knocking at his door. He's eager, and grateful, for his opportunity in the Silver and Black, but he knows learning Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther's system won't happen overnight.
"Main thing is just getting your feet back under [you], and not being out there to know the guys, and get a feel for how they play, and just having on pads," he told reporters Monday. "It's been real tough, but to come into a new scheme where the wording is very different, that's hard. Being around for a long time, you understand the cover threes, cover two, cover one, it's just how it's worded."
Somewhat surprisingly, Cromartie was thrown into action on Friday for nine snaps against the Packers, just a day after joining the team. I imagine we'll see a dose of the 32-year-old this Thursday when the team travels to Seattle to face the Seahawks.
In the short time he's been a Raider, Cromartie has made a few observations about Gruden's squad, and thinks there's a healthy mix of youth and experience on the roster.
"I think you've got a good mix of veteran and young guys," he said. "You've got guys that just want to come in and play football, but it's a lot of leadership back there, and there's a lot of guys that understand football."
He's also learned that how serious Gruden is about the game of football.
"They're some high-spirited guys, and I'll tell you what you don't want to get on their bad side," he said.
The Raiders secondary is looking to take a step forward in 2018, and second-year cornerback Gareon Conley will play an important role in that process. The former first-round pick has immense potential, but injuries have hindered his time on the field. Cromartie thinks he can help No. 21 progress, and grow into the player he's capable of becoming.
"Just from a standpoint of understanding that the NFL, you're going to get beat up, but he's a young guy that has a lot of upside," Cromartie explained. "He's gritty, he'll come up and tackle, so the main thing is just making sure he's staying focused the whole time."
We'll see how Cromartie integrates himself in the defense, but the addition of another veteran voice in the locker room won't hurt. Let's not forget that Cromartie just two years ago hauled in six interceptions. Gruden is certainly going to try and replicate his past success, but this time it'll be in the Silver and Black.