Skip to main content
Raider Nation, Stand Up - View Schedule - Presented by Allegiant

Former NFL players turned Raiders defensive coaches connecting with their position groups on a different level

287 games, 756 solo tackles, 26 interceptions.

That's the combined total of Gerald Alexander, Ricky Manning and Mike Caldwell's production in the NFL and a big reason they joined Antonio Pierce on the Raiders coaching staff.

Pierce, initially brought in as linebackers coach, had nine seasons of NFL experience before entering into coaching. The former Pro Bowler notably won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in the 2007 season, symbolizing the penultimate accomplishment within football. His ability to connect with players through his personal experiences has cultivated a unique bond in the locker room.

Stepping into his first full season as head coach, he's brought in a staff of defensive coaches that share his experience of being a former NFL player.

One of the more high profile hirings was Mike Caldwell, who spent the previous two seasons as the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator. Along with his 16 years of coaching experience, he played 11 seasons in the NFL. The former linebacker is stepping into Pierce's former role with the team as well as taking over the duties as run game coordinator.

"I feel that I can reach guys. I've sat in those seats; I understand what they're going to go through," Caldwell said. "And whether it's a football lesson or a life lesson, I think I'm here and AP is here and we're able to touch the guys where they're at, and other people aren't able to do that. ... [J]ust being here for a short time so far, being able to see the buy-in of the guys, everybody's excited about it."

Two more former NFL players lead the secondary, with Gerald Alexander commanding the safeties and Ricky Manning coaching the cornerbacks. Alexander has had a relationship with Pierce since they competed at rival schools within the Pac-12. Manning played in two Super Bowls for the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears, catching three interceptions in the 2003 NFC Championship game as a rookie.

Like Caldwell, Alexander believes his unique lens as a former player can take his position group to a higher level, especially with a young corps.

"[T]here's a certain level of insight that you can kind of relate to them in regards to where they are in their journey and just understanding maybe some of the mistakes and be able to understand how you coach them, but I don't lean on that," said Alexander. "It's my job to provide the clarity and development and things like that for their success. So, whether it be me, and obviously with AP, he's done an awesome job in regards to doing the same thing as he's now our leader going forward and just providing that relatability, that example, that push."

This isn't Manning's first stint with the Raiders. He spent a short time on the team's practice squad in 2009. It was the last NFL team he signed with before going into coaching three years later. The Fresno, California, native was also a fan of the Silver and Black growing up.

"I come here and Patrick Graham and GA [Gerald Alexander], Mike Caldwell – I'm surrounded by guys that have coached in this league and are great dudes," Manning said. "So, that right there, just being around it, I'm like 'Oh, man, this is awesome right here.' I'm learning something every day.

"To be here in this legendary organization while AP is doing his thing, it's awesome. It's a blessing for sure."

View the best photos from the last day of OTAs at Intermountain Health Performance Center.

Latest Content