Safety Reggie Nelson
This past offseason, the Raiders made a splash in free agency by acquiring defensive back Reggie Nelson to help bolster the defense. Nelson is entering his 10th season in the NFL and is coming off one of his best years statistically with eight interceptions, a career-high that tied the league-high last year. His career season helped solidify his invitation to the Pro Bowl in his first selection ever.
It's obvious that Nelson is ecstatic to be a part of the Raiders. "They're up and coming, I like their defense, they're young, and it was a no-brainer. I just wanted to be a part of something special and you know Raider Nation is crazy, so I just wanted to be a part of that fan base." Nelson understands what it means to be a Raider and his appreciation for the franchise's culture is bigger than the game itself.
Since his arrival, Head Coach Jack Del Rio has been preaching a tough mentality on defense. Nelson is taking his new coach's words to heart, "Coach Jack is always preaching 'sharpen your tools and get in your playbook' and everything else will come." The defensive back is taking all the necessary steps to make sure he's submerged in his role on defense. "I've just been focusing and studying, you know trying to get everything down pat… I'm just excited to be here and get back to playing football."
During his time in the NFL, Nelson has produced a consistent level of play each year. He has a combined 648 tackles to go along with 30 interceptions and eight forced fumbles over the duration of his career. His relentless attitude on defense has led to some monstrous hits on opposing teams.
Dating back to the AFC Wild Card game in 2015, Nelson suffered an ankle injury during the second quarter of the game. The injury prevented his return to the game and kept him out of the Raiders' offseason program. The injury no longer appears to be a concern, Nelson worked hard during the offseason to get back on the field and will try to remain healthy. He's been a reliable player, over the past nine seasons Nelson has only missed six of his 144 games. His eagerness to return to the field is demonstrated in his work ethic and focus on learning the playbook.
Nelson became one of two defensive players from the Raiders to be named on the NFL's Top 100 list in 2016. He will be an important leader in the development of a young defense as it continues to grow as a unit. As one of the veteran players on the team, Nelson will look to lead by example and be a mentor to some of the younger guys as training camp begins.