ALAMEDA –Mario Edwards Jr. hadn’t played a football game that mattered in over a year, but the Raiders defensive lineman says the prolonged absence didn’t add gravity to his return.
Edwards Jr. made his season debut in Saturday’s victory over Indianapolis, playing 19 defensive snaps in his return from a hip injury. The ailment kept him on injured reserve longer than many expected, but had healed fully after a long layoff.
Edwards Jr. was happy to report feeling no worse for the wear.
“I knocked some rust off, and felt like I did pretty well after being off a whole year,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “The first game was about getting my feet wet and getting familiar with the blocks and schemes again. Next week will be better for me.”
Edwards Jr.’s activity level should increase on Sunday at Denver as he continues to acclimate back into the game flow. The Raiders hope he can be more of a full-time contributor once the playoffs hit.
“It was really good to get him back,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He got just under 20 reps. We wanted to cap it at 20, 30, somewhere in there. We didn’t end up taking a ton of reps on the day. I think we had in the 50’s yesterday. Solid first outing and I know, for him, he had a big smile on his face. He was just happy to be back in the action and get a chance to play again.”
Football players can rehab and recover well, but there’s always uncertainly about a physical response until they start hitting.
“Once I got my first contact, I was good,” Edwards Jr. said. “I was excited than anything else to get back out there in the Coliseum and play.
“These guys have been doing their thing all year, and I was just happy to be a part of it and contribute.”