Clelin Ferrell arrives with statement game in Raiders' win vs. Chargers

Clelin Ferrell arrives with statement game in Raiders' win vs. Chargers

OAKLAND -- Clelin Ferrell's rookie season has had some growing pains. The No. 4 overall pick lost weight, has been forced to play all along the defensive line and hasn't been putting up the pressure numbers some want to see out of an edge rusher drafted highly. 

Jon Gruden and the Raiders have been confident in Ferrell, and rightfully so, touting his impact against the run and noting that not everything is about the sacks, pressures and hits. The game has layers, and Ferrell, who was a star at Clemson, is doing everything they asked. Those numbers would come. 

Come they did, and in a wave Thursday night. Down to seven healthy bodies on the defensive line, the Raiders needed big production out of Ferrell and fellow rookie Maxx Crosby in order to fluster Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

In his best NFL game to date, Ferrell racked up eight tackles, 2.5 sacks, five pressures, two other tackles for loss and a pass defensed in 56 snaps during the Raiders' 26-24 win over the Chargers.

"Sack totals are driving me nuts," Gruden said of Ferrell after the win. "He does a lot more than just rush the passer. He made some great plays against the run. It was a signature game for him obviously, but it's great for him to get some sacks. Maybe some of the people who are counting sacks out there will acknowledge this."

Raiders safety Erik Harris doesn't understand the pressure that comes with being the No. 4 overall pick. He went undrafted out of Division II California University of Pennsylvania, but he scratched and clawed to get his NFL opportunity. So before the Raiders' Week 8 loss to the Texans, Harris had a talk with Ferrell.

"Clelin and I, we had a talk in Houston about, just about life and in general," Harris said Thursday. "I'm so proud of him. I've never been drafted, especially that high and I couldn't imagine the pressure one would have to perform. I'm just really happy for him. I'm happy he's playing free and doing his job and getting after it. 

"I don't know if he was getting frustrated or not. I was just trying to instill confidence in him and just remind him why he was picked where he was picked. He's a great player and sometimes the pressure outside the locker room or even within the locker room that you have to perform and guys are looking at you to perform, it can be a lot of pressure. He's young and he's stepping up and that's why he was No. 4 overall.

"I'm really proud of him for stepping up and having confidence in himself and starting to find his groove within this league."

Despite the NFL learning curve, Ferrell has remained confident in himself, knowing he has the ability to be a difference-maker in this league.

"I feel like any player knows that to become a great player, you have to become it first, you know what I mean?" Ferrell told NBC Sports Bay Area. "You can't just be it. Some guys, they hit bigger jumps than others at times, but it's just going to take time. Trust me, ain't nobody have more confidence in myself than I do."

[RELATED: Raiders-Chargers Coliseum finale was fitting final chapter]

The confidence came through Thursday night early and often with Ferrell making life miserable for Rivers along with Crosby. On the Chargers' first drive, Ferrell used his strength to drive left tackle Russell Okung back and grab Rivers, allowing Crosby to finish him off.

Then, he whipped Trey Pipkins in the third quarter and hammered Rivers, mimicking reeling in a fish after the sack.

Ferrell had no desire to talk after the game. He let his play do that through four dominant quarters against a division rival.

The statement was clear: Clelin Ferrell has arrived.

Al Davis Way street sign installed near Raiders' Allegiant Stadium

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Al Davis Way street sign installed near Raiders' Allegiant Stadium

When fans look to navigate to the nearly complete Allegiant Stadium, they need only ask, “Show me the way to Al Davis Way.”

The street sign bearing the name of the legendary former owner and coach of the Raiders was installed last week off Dean Martin Drive on the north end of the $2 billion facility.

“I think the changing over of the street name (to Al Davis Way) is an important step in highlighting the legacy of the incredible franchise and the work that so many people put into this stadium,” Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft said. “The thousands of men and women who literally built the stadium — the reward of that is soon to be seen and noticed around the world.”

Read more on the Las Vegas Review-Journal

Javin White 'won't be denied' in quest to make NFL name with Raiders

Javin White 'won't be denied' in quest to make NFL name with Raiders

Javin White worked tirelessly to get to this point.

He used to drive from Vacaville to Oakland's McCylmonds High School, where he had dreams of being a standout receiver. White committed to UNLV, a program that has long been down on its luck, as a three-star prospect. He paid his dues for the Runnin' Rebels, working his way up from special teams to become the face of a program as a versatile defensive player who saw time at cornerback, safety and linebacker.

White wanted to be the first UNLV player drafted in the NFL since the Atlanta Falcons drafted Joe Hawley in the fourth round in 2010. But White didn't receive an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, and his pro day was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. His name wasn't called during the draft, but his phone rang shortly after. The Raiders were on the line, wanting to add the athletic hybrid to their rookie class.

The kid who went to high school in Oakland, and became the face of UNLV football joined the team moving from the East Bay to Sin City. White has a strong belief in himself and that his NFL journey truly will begin in Silver and Black.

"I'm going to bring my confidence," White said on the latest "Raiders Talk" podcast. "My confidence and my play. Even when I was in college, I was a confident player. I refer back to college because that's what people have to go off. When people watch my game they understand that feistiness I have. Everything I come with, that's pure heart. I love this sport. I love everything about it. Me being with the Raiders, I feel like this is a great program for me. I can be myself. I'm one of those guys that's going to get after it, and I won't be denied."

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

As the Raiders modernize their defense, it's easy to see White finding a home in silver and black and developing into a quality NFL player.

After years of getting picked apart at linebacker, the Raiders overhauled the position this offseason. They brought in Cory Littleton to man the WILL linebacker spot and signed Nick Kwiatkoski to be the MIKE. Coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock drafted Clemson safety Tanner Muse in the third round, and plan to move him to linebacker. Muse, like White, is a versatile, athletic defender who saw action all over the field in college. Muse will start his Raiders career as a special teams ace, and White should join him there if he can win a spot in training camp.

Even if White can't win a spot initially, he should find a home on the Raiders practice squad and be in perfect position to develop into a solid, modern-day linebacker for the Silver and Black.

As an undrafted free agent without rookie minicamp or OTAs, White faces an uphill climb to make the Raiders' roster. He knows that. But he's driven by hard work and the determination to make it in the NFL. There's a chip on his shoulder and a desire to prove those who overlooked him were wrong. It's the type of attitude that has become a calling card for the new era of Raiders football Gruden and Mayock are overseeing.

"Honestly, that's just like my life story, you know?" White said. "The chip on the shoulder, that's old school. In this time right now, it's more. I got out the mud. Nothing was given to me. When I came to UNLV I wasn't a highly-ranked dude. I worked my way up. I redshirted, played special teams just like everyone else had to do. Then, when I blew up, I never looked back. So when people ask me, 'Oh, were you always a star?' No. I got it straight out the mud like a lot of people do in college. Now, I guess I just got to get out the mud again in the NFL."

[RELATED: Renfrow's continued growth key to Raiders' offensive resurgence]

White couldn't ask for a better spot to start his career as an undrafted free agent. The Raiders are starting anew in a town he knows well. A town that loves him and is rooting for him. He'll enter a building with Littleton, who went undrafted out of the University of Washington and became a special teams maven before transforming himself into one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL.

Littleton knows the road from undrafted to NFL star. White undoubtedly will be glued to him, picking Littleton's brain as his NFL journey gets underway.

Much like Keelan Doss did a year ago, White has the chance to become a fan favorite to Raider Nation. A local kid with East Bay and Vegas ties hoping to become a long-term part of the Raiders' future while building his own brand as Las Vegas' favored son in silver and black.

The skills and the drive are there. White just wanted an opportunity. He didn't get one in the draft. There was no combine invite. A virtual pro day was all he had to prove his worth at the next level.

The Raiders liked what they saw. Now, the real work begins again for Javin White.