When General Manger Reggie McKenzie signed Justin Tuck in May of 2014 he knew he was getting more than just a productive player who had recorded 60.5 sacks and won two Super Bowls during his nine years as a New York Giant.
He was also getting a leader both on and off the field, a player whose veteran presence could prove invaluable to a young Raiders team.
That veteran leadership was best displayed during the Raiders Thursday Night Football match-up against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Raiders entered the game with an 0-10 record, but in the waning moments of the game, they were poised to secure their first win of 2015. A heads-up timeout called by Tuck with 0:28 seconds left, when two defenders wouldn't make it back to the line of scrimmage in time, all but guaranteed the win for the Raiders.
Tuck's awareness to call that timeout and help secure the Raiders first win was precisely the type of heads-up play that General Manger Reggie McKenzie expected out of Tuck when he signed the two-time Super Bowl Champion.
Heading into 2015 under the guidance of a new coaching staff, Tuck's leadership and football IQ will once again be crucial for a relatively young Raiders defense trying to find their way in the league.
"Tuck has that experience and brings some of that wisdom to the group, so I think that's very important," Head Coach Jack Del Rio said after the team's first OTA [Organized Team Activity]. "A guy that's been there at the highest level understands what it takes. So a guy like that, that's buying into your message and doing the things that need to be done and helping others, that's a positive factor for you."
The 2015 season will be Tuck's 11th in the NFL, and the veteran has acknowledged that the feel in Oakland is different this year than in 2014.
"It's different," Tuck said. "I think this staff has come in with a mindset that they're going to speed things up and give us different, just a different practice atmosphere. You've got coaches running around and yelling and really driving you to play fast, practice fast. So yeah, it's a little different."
Tuck enjoyed a successful year on the field in 2014 for Oakland, appearing in 15 games, recording 5.0 sacks and one interception, but his intangibles and veteran presence may be even more valuable as the young Oakland Raiders began a new era under the guidance of Head Coach Jack Del Rio.