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Maxx Crosby, Robert Spillane challenged with bringing out the best in their teammates

In several ways, Maxx Crosby and Robert Spillane are cut from the same cloth.

The two former MAC competitors in college were voted team captains of the Las Vegas Raiders in 2023, proceeding to have career seasons in the Silver and Black. Both also set the tone for the defense with a physical, animalistic mentality on the field, seeking out their opposition as prey.

Much of their demeanors can be traced to their respective journeys within the NFL. Crosby went from a 2019 fourth-round pick to a franchise corner piece, and Spillane went from a 2018 undrafted free agent to the Raiders' leading tackler.

As the Raiders begin their voluntary two-week Phase One period of the offseason workout program, Crosby and Spillane will be depended on to set the standard for the defense.

"Going on into Year 2 with the organization, guys have shown that they respect me and that they care about my opinions," Spillane said. "So, it's my opportunity to take young guys under my belt, even older veteran guys that sometimes need a push in the back, and give it to him. I tell those guys, don't be afraid to coach me up. I'm not this perfect player. So, if you notice me lacking in any area, get on me. I'm not above you, as a leader you got to take and give.

"People ask me what do I get out of these offseason workouts? I say, 'I get inspired by young guys. I love getting chased,'" the linebacker added. "Those next guys behind me want my job as bad as I want my job, so how can I keep my job with this team? Just being here inspires me."

While football is ramping back up in Las Vegas, Spillane and Crosby haven't gone anywhere. The two have been in the building since January, training in the weight room and encouraging their teammates to do the same. Antonio Pierce noted he's seen an uptick of players sticking around the building this offseason, and the two defensive players agreed.

"He talks from the heart, he lays out a very clear and concise vision of what he wants this offseason to look like, what he expects our team to look like," Spillane said of AP. "As players, we just go about getting his vision to come through to fruition."

The locker room is seemingly filled with high energy to start the offseason, and Pierce is making an emphasis to bring the best out his defensive anchors and the rest of the roster, while also challenging players to motivate each other.

"AP challenged me early. It's not just about me. There's a lot of really good players, but the great ones bring others up," Crosby said. "For me, I took that personal."

"I pour my heart and soul into this, and I want to be the best leader and teammate I can be on a daily basis," he continued. "Being a Raider is something that's special to me."

On paper, the Raiders defense is in a good position heading into the 2024 season. The unit, which will be going into its third season under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, allowed a mere 16 points per game from Week 9 through Week 18. Christian Wilkins was also added to the mix, one of the top interior defensive linemen on the market in free agency.

But as Crosby enters his sixth season with the Raiders, he's well aware that football games aren't played on paper.

"This team has all the potential and talent to go out there and achieve great things, but all that is bull [expletive] unless you go out there and do it yourself," he said. "We've got a lot of work to do. It's April and we're just excited for what's to come, but all that matters is today and we'll worry about tomorrow when it gets here."

View photos of the Las Vegas Raiders arriving at Intermountain Health Performance Center for the start of the 2024 voluntary offseason workout program.

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