Bruce Irvin reveals why he's playing best football of his career

Bruce Irvin reveals why he's playing best football of his career

ALAMEDA – Bruce Irvin is playing the best football of his career. The Raiders have benefitted from that fact, featuring an edge rusher who can create havoc opposite Khalil Mack.

Irvin has been on a tear lately, with five sacks in his last six games. Several of them have come late in games, with pressure that helped the Raiders beat Houston and San Diego.

Irvin’s effort against the Chargers was essential to Sunday’s 19-16 victory. He had six tackles and two sacks against San Diego, and had pressure on a pass that led to Reggie Nelson’s game-sealing interception.

That defensive performance was the AFC’s best, worthy of the conference’s defensive player of the week award. The league announced the honor on Wednesday morning.

Irvin has proven an excellent addition to the Raiders defensive front, one of 2016’s strongest free-agent signings.

“From the moment that Bruce arrived, he and Khalil had a natural competition or natural kind of bond where they were two alpha males. They were going to push each other really hard every day and compete every day. Bruce has been tremendous for and a really good addition to the football team.”

Irvin has been a solid leader and performer on this defense, with 51 tackles, seven sacks, five forced fumbles and 40 other quarterback pressures.

The fifth-year veteran believes this will be his finest complete season yet.

“I would say so, as far as me being a complete player against the run and dropping in coverage,” Irvin said. “I’ve done a good job of what’s being asked of me, and I have to continue to grow within my role. I want to keep getting better.”

Irvin cares about wins most of all, but he also wants his first double-digit sack total as a professional.

“I definitely want to get that,” Irvin said. “I definitely…I’m going to get it.”

That would mark a career high and a significant accomplishment considering he spends 11 percent of passing downs in coverage. That’s his lowest percentage since 2012, when he was a rotational pass rusher in Seattle – he was a more protypical outside linebacker in three seasons after that -- but it still adds dimension to his position rushing predominantly from the weak side.

Irvin was asked why this season has been his best, and it’s more than how he’s being used.

“It’s a clear mind,” Irvin said. “I’m just worried about football, and I’m getting all the other stuff that doesn’t matter out of my life. I’m committing myself to this team, this organization and trying to put forth the best performance I can. I’m feeling it right now, and I’m also preparing hard during the week and translating things well on game day.”

As a former member of the vaunted Seattle defense for four seasons, Irvin is often asked to compared these Raiders to those teams. It’s not his favorite exercise, though there’s reason to believe this defense could grow into a strong unit.

“I hate always comparing us to Seattle,” he said. “We’re Oakland. We’re trying to build our legacy and watch our defense and be like us. Seattle is a good defense. We’re also a good defense, an up-and-coming defense that will continue to make strides to become who we want to be.”

Raiders remain on a receiver hunt as their top target signs elsewhere


Raiders remain on a receiver hunt as their top target signs elsewhere

The Raiders missed out on signing Ryan Grant. The former Washington receiver visited the team’s Alameda training complex, but left without a contract and ultimately chose to sign a one-year, $5 million deal with Indianapolis.

They lost that one, but are undeterred in their quest to upgrade the receiver corps.

They already signed Jordy Nelson and let Michael Crabtree walk, hoping for steady production and quality locker room leadership in the exchange.

Cordarrelle Patterson was traded to New England on Sunday, creating a spot in the position group.

The Raiders tried to fill it with Grant. No go, no matter.

They hosted veteran Eric Decker on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. They also declared interest in Allen Hurns, a player the Jaguars released Tuesday morning.

Hurns listed the Raiders among interested teams – he said there were 10 in total – in an interview with KFNZ radio in Charlotte, N.C.

Hurns has a 1,000-yard season to his credit – his biggest year came with now-Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson as Jacksonville's O.C. -- and two relative down years since. Injuries have also played a part in that.

Decker had a stellar four-year run with Denver and the New York Jets, but was less effective during two seasons in Tennessee. The 31-year old has experience in the slot, and could be a productive No. 3 option in Jon Gruden’s offense.

Gruden doesn't mind working with veteran receivers, something clear from his past and willingness to add Nelson as a major contributor. 

Even if the Raiders don't land a veteran receiver, they could also look for a receiver in the NFL draft.

Amari Cooper will remain the No. 1 option. Seth Roberts has $4.45 million guaranteed in 2018. Johnny Holton, Isaac Whitney and Keon Hatcher are also on the roster.

Report: Ndamukong Suh set to meet with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh set to meet with Raiders

After visiting the Titans, Saints and Rams, free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will make a stop in the East Bay.

Recently released by the Dolphins, Suh will visit with the Raiders on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

The former No. 2 overall pick made it through just three seasons of a six-year, $114 million deal he signed with Miami prior to the 2015 season.

The 31-year-old Portland, Oregon native last made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and was last earned First-Team All Pro honors in 2014.

In 16 games with the Dolphins last season, Suh recorded 4.5 sacks and 48 combined tackles.