ALAMEDA – Corey Liuget spent his entire NFL career attached to one team before becoming a member of the Raiders. The Chargers' lightning bolt was something he never planned to play without until the L.A. franchise declined an option in his contract and put him on the street, still recovering from a quadriceps tear in November last year.
He spent the spring and, surprisingly, all summer on the street. Liuget met with several teams but didn’t sign until Sunday, when he joined a team Chargers wanted him to hate.
It ended a tortuous stretch in Las Vegas where, as Liuget says, he put himself through the ringer.
“It was just me and the trainer going at it, working hard in a warehouse for four hours a day,” Liuget said. “Then I would rehab after that, to make sure I was in position to go when the time came. For the last nine weeks, it has been pretty much hell for me.”
Liuget had a singular focus, to prove he was far from done. The former first-round draft pick has been a steady force along the Chargers defensive front, as a 3-4 end and then as a 4-3 interior lineman after the team changed alignments.
He has 24 career sacks and 59 tackles for a loss, but often did thankless work plugging gaps so edge rushers could make big plays.
Liuget’s excited about the opportunity to thrive and, at times, soak in the spotlight making stops in the backfield.
“I fit perfectly into this scheme,” Liuget said. “It’s a one-gap, penetrating defense. That’s what I love. That’s my style of defense. That’s what we had with the Chargers the past couple years, so I’m super excited to be in it.”
Liuget was super bummed to leave the Chargers on a down note, dealing with a significant injury.
“That was a challenge, maybe the toughest experience of my life,” he said. “I’ve never had an injury like that. This one was emotional, but I’m back and in rare form now.”
Liuget’s rare form can be impactful from the inside and should help the Raiders pressure the passer and stop the run. He has to get caught up a bit first, learning this system’s terminology, audibles and checks on the fly after coming in so late. It’s uncertain whether he’ll play the preseason finale against Seattle, but Liuget estimates he’ll need a game or two to get into quality game shape.
The Raiders will ease him into the game plan, letting him focus on specific tasks at first before expanding his role if it’s earned.
Liuget also sees how many young players populate this line, and plans to help them progress quickly.
He has already seen quality from Raiders first-round draft pick Clelin Ferrell and plans on showing him Joey Bosa tape right away. Liuget sees similarities between the two and wants to show how Bosa played well off a defensive tackle to create maximum havoc.
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Liuget is in great shape and finds himself highly motivated to make an impact on the defensive front. He believes that can happen quickly.
“Once we understand that we’re going to dictate terms and that we’re the boss, “ Liuget said. "The sky’s the limit for us.”