Not so long ago, Vic Beasley was a First-Team All-Pro, coming off an incredible 15.5-sack season.
The former Clemson Tiger played all 32 games his first two seasons in the league and started in 28 of them, but since then, his usage with the Atlanta Falcons dipped. Following his Pro-Bowl season, Beasley played in 14 games in 2017, but only started in eight. It wasn't until 2019 when he started more than 10 games again (15) and it's no coincidence it was his best season since his remarkable 2016 campaign.
The Las Vegas Raiders know Beasley is capable of being the player he once was, but he needs the opportunity, and they're adamant about giving it to him. Since he joined the Silver and Black on November 23, Head Coach Jon Gruden has voiced his support of the six-year veteran on numerous occasions, expressing his excitement to get the athletic defensive end up to speed. The team has been easing him along slowly, but after last week's game against the New York Jets, it's clear Beasley's time is coming. It wasn't much, but he played eight snaps on Sunday and Gruden indicated it's just the beginning.
"We feel like we want to create competition, Vic Beasley is here to create that," Gruden said Monday. "He didn't come here to sit on the bench. Takk McKinley, when he comes back, he's not going to be just sitting out there waiting until next year. We're going to put the ball down Wednesday morning for practice and we're going to play the guys that perform their best on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday."
Against the Jets, defensive end Carl Nassib was a healthy scratch because the coaching staff wanted to get a better look at Beasley. The 28-year-old has shown a lot in practice thus far and it's put the coaching staff in a position where they have no choice but to throw him on the field.
"I think Beasley showed in practice that he was ready to go in there and play, and he's really a difference-maker with his speed off the ball," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Thursday. "It opens things up for some other guys when you have a guy like that, that has the quickness off the ball. So, hopefully, we can evaluate the guys throughout the week this week and make a decision here on Friday of which way to go, and if he's up and running hopefully we can ramp him up a little bit."
Beasley's contribution on Sunday was a small sample size, but another strong week of practice could keep him active on gameday. The pass rush hasn't been the Raiders' bread and butter this season, but second-year players Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell brought the heat last week. For the coaches, and fans, it's good to see two of the team's foundational pieces on defense leading the charge, but they need more help, especially this week against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts have one of the most talented offensive lines in the NFL, which allows their speedy receivers to get downfield quickly, and for their three-headed rushing attack to carve up running lanes. Speed and power at the point of attack will be necessary to stop the Colts' offense — we'll see if Beasley's combination of both earns him a bigger role this week.
The Silver and Black go through final preparations for their Week 14 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts during practice at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center.