There's a lot of new faces on the Oakland Raiders roster, but the newest editions to the team have been on the roster less than two weeks – some just a few days – and already seen action in the Silver and Black.
On September 3 the Raiders claimed defensive tackle Brian Price, and just 10 days later, on September 13, the team signed defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Clinton McDonald, placing fellow defensive lineman Justin Ellis on the Reserve/Injured list in a corresponding move.
The trio bring a wealth of experience to the team, with a total of 26 sacks, 279 tackles, and 166 games played combined. Their talents were needed considering the team lost both Justin Ellis and P.J. Hall to injuries after the first regular season game. Even though they all joined the team within the last two weeks, they needed to be ready for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, which is no easy task for a group that didn't participate in OTAs, Minicamp, or Training Camp with the Raiders; however, McDonald feels he's right where he needs to be.
"To be honest with you, this is one of the teams I visited in free agency, and it was a good fit when I came out, but I just didn't make the right decision," said McDonald. "I'm just happy to be here now."
"Well, we liked him. We wanted to sign him," Head Coach Jon Gruden added. "He was injured, and we couldn't pull the trigger at that time for that sole reason. It was a medical issue, he wasn't ready to play. Fortunately, as fate has it, we got him at some point here. We are happy to have him. He's a good player, he's a great team guy. We are going to need him here in the next several weeks."
Two days isn't a long time to get caught up on a team's scheme, but Hankins and McDonald both contributed in their own ways against the team's division rival – they combined for four tackles and one quarterback hit. Each saw a decent amount of playing time too, with Price seeing 17 defensive snaps (26 percent), McDonald with 52 snaps (79 percent) and an additional four snaps on special teams (15 percent);Hankins was thrown into the mix as well for 18 snaps (27 percent).
During his press conference Monday, Gruden touched on the play of Price, McDonald, and Hankins, sharing that he was relatively pleased overall with their effort in the Mile High city.
"We were in a tough spot yesterday, certainly with [Brian] Price playing for the first time. [Johnathan] Hankins and Clinton basically just showing up before the game," he said. "He did a heck of a job. He not only played a lot of snaps, he played some good snaps against the run and he gave us a little bit of pass rush in there. That's been his history. He can play the nose or the three-technique and that's what he did yesterday."
The Raiders pass rush has struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but the team improved Sunday compared to Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams. The Silver and Black were able to hit Broncos quarterback Case Keenum five times, compared to the three they had on Rams quarterback Jared Goff in the regular season debut.
Aside from the additions of Price, McDonald, and Hankins, the Raiders have a new defensive coordinator, and a handful of new pieces at practically every position. Learning how to play as one will understandably take time, so we'll see how the trio of new signings, and the defense as a whole comes together as the season continues.
The Raiders will travel to Miami to face a 2-0 Dolphins squad this Sunday.