If anyone ever wondered why Yannick Ngakoue wears No. 91, we may have gotten an answer Wednesday.
The Raiders edge rusher got his eighth sack of the season in last week's Thanksgiving day game. With his sack of Dak Prescott, Ngakoue has recorded six consecutive seasons with at least eight sacks. What makes it even more impressive is that he's reached the milestone representing consistency under unstable conditions. Ngakoue is playing for his fourth NFL team in six seasons.
It's very reminiscent of NFL Hall of Famer Kevin Greene.
In the late edge rusher's last eight seasons playing in the NFL, he racked up at least nine sacks in each year – while playing for four different franchises in that span. During Greene's 15 seasons in the league, he wore No. 91, the same number Ngakoue has donned since being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016. Ngakoue recognized the parallels between his career and Greene's: being able to come through for their team, no matter where the destination.
"Kevin Greene, everywhere he went he produced at a high level," said Ngakoue. "And I feel like we have similar stories. As far as I did my first four seasons in Jacksonville and had to make that little journey to get to ultimately here. And I feel like Minnesota, Baltimore – no matter how I was used, even if I wasn't utilized the right way, I still managed to find a way to make plays. And that's important."
Ngakoue made a headshot of Greene as his profile picture on his personal Twitter account recently, a reminder of who Ngakoue strives to emulate.
"The reason why I put Kevin Greene up there is because he went through a similar journey and he produced at a high level everywhere he went."
Ngakoue attributes his consistent success to his work ethic and offseason training. He stressed how his constant goal is to outwork everyone in the league and how he believes he "separated [him]self a lot tremendously" through the vigorous training routine he has adapted. The D-lineman credited his lower-body lifting and sled drags to giving him more strength waist down – also helpful with his burst off the line of scrimmage. His progress as a player has been visible to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who also sees a few similarities between Ngakoue and Greene.
"I know there are some aspects of their games that are very similar. Kevin Greene was a phenomenal player," said Bradley. "But I think what makes Yannick so unique is his motor and his desire to be a really, really good player. He's really driven to that, but I think where his game has also changed now is the run game. ... You're seeing him to be a complete player on first, second and third down. A guy that can go out there and you're not worried about [him]. And he's given so much to this team."
With six games to play, he's currently on pace to set a career-high in sacks on the season, but Ngakoue's goals for himself go far beyond sack totals. He's been very clear that he wants to go out and prove himself to be a complete player at the defensive end position. And what's scary is that he doesn't even feel like he's close to his prime, at only 26 years old.
"I'm just not trying to be a guy who was a good rusher in the NFL," said Ngakoue. "When I'm done, I want people to always put me on that Mount Rushmore, arguably. And that's a long way to go, so I'm just going to keep working. Keep chopping wood.
"I'm not at my best. I feel that I'm just scratching the surface."
The Raiders return to the practice field at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as they prepare for their Week 13 matchup against the Washington Football Team.