Raiders' Maxx Crosby vigorously trying to prove himself as complete player


Raiders' Maxx Crosby vigorously trying to prove himself as complete player

Maxx Crosby broke his hand in the Raiders’ first preseason game, a moment well documented on “Hard Knocks.” He was trying to punch the ball free and ended up hurting himself in the process. He tried in vain to play through it even after saying his hand felt like a noodle and ended up on the shelf for roughly three weeks of the preseason recovering from surgery.

That’s a significant setback for a player who needed every single rep possible to be ready for the regular season. Raiders brass didn’t want to let Crosby’s season slip and echoed a common refrain.

“They told me to stay in it mentally, and really harped on that,” Crosby said Friday in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “That’s what I tried to do. That helped me out a lot, and they really fast-tracked the process of getting me back on the field and working again with a club on. That wasn’t ideal, but I could learn and apply and stay in football shape.”

Crosby didn’t enjoy working with the club, but taking that tool away forced him to hone his footwork, leverage and balance. Getting steady work was most important.

The Raiders, after all, desperately needed him to make an instant impact as a situational pass rusher. They’re finding he’s much more than that.

“I think he’s gotten a lot better in both the run and the pass rush,” Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “I think he’s a high-energy guy, he’s getting better every week and he can do a lot of different things for us, so he’s an exciting guy to have.

“[He has made progress] mainly in the running game and the little detailed things, the footwork and hand placement on early downs. Obviously, we knew he could rush bringing him in here, but he’s becoming a complete defensive end each and every week.”

Hold on. That doesn’t match his pre-draft profile, which labeled him as a too-skinny kid from a small school who couldn’t stop the run. Crosby heard all about his perceived shortcomings. He read about them, absorbed the negativity and never let it go.

It became fuel to show he was no one-trick pony. That has happened in small steps since Crosby began his career in the Silver and Black, though he’s rounding into quality form heading into Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.

“My confidence has definitely increased over time,” Crosby said. “I would say the mental part of the game is way more than 50 percent. That’s everything, and I believe I can beat and compete with anybody. I try to bring it every day and come in with a chip on my shoulder. I came from Eastern Michigan. I only had one [scholarship] offer. Blah, blah, blah. I can’t stop the run and all that stuff. I keep all that in my mind at all times. Every time I step out there, I feel like I have something to prove.”

Crosby always believed that he belongs, and has produced tangible evidence of it over the last two games. Crosby was given a full workload and made the most of it. He wowed in a Week 4 win over Indianapolis, with three tackles, two batted passes, a forced fumble and a quarterback hit among four total pressures.

He followed that up with his first NFL sack against Chicago and three total pressures playing a career-high 55 defensive snaps in his first career start.

Those two efforts showed great progress, considering he had but one pressure in the previous three.

Hearing Guenther compliment his run defense –- he got plenty of opportunities starting while Clelin Ferrell was in concussion protocol versus Chicago -- is a badge of honor and a sign he’s eliminating perceived strikes against him and the unwelcome “situational pass rusher” label.

“That was the biggest knock on me coming into the league,” Crosby said. “I was too skinny and not strong enough. I was a lot smaller last year so I get it, but it was a point of emphasis for me. I always feel like I have been able to make plays against the run, but I think the extra weight and power really helped. There’s a natural instinct to it and an attitude to stopping the run.”

Crosby attributed that to discipline and increased size and strength built during the pre-draft process and after becoming a Raider.

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Crosby says he’s over 265 pounds now – he played in the 240s his last year at Eastern Michigan – and believes he can be a productive every-down player. He loves getting sacks but won’t let them determine his worth, finding himself proud of diverse stat lines of the last two weeks.

“That’s the thing about defensive end,” Crosby said. “Everybody focuses on sacks, but I just want to affect the game on every single play. If it’s not a sack, it’s batting a pass or making a technically sound tackle or punching the ball out or even just staying disciplined in my gap. There are several ways I can help my team.”

Raiders injury report: Josh Jacobs, Trent Brown miss practice Thursday

Raiders injury report: Josh Jacobs, Trent Brown miss practice Thursday

ALAMEDA – The Raiders desperately need running back Josh Jacobs and right tackle Trent Brown available for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Both players have spent significant time playing through pain, and that very well could happen again this week.

Jacobs has been dealing with a fractured shoulder since Week 7. Brown has missed one game, but has played through ankle and knee injuries thus far this season. Now, he has a pectoral ailment keeping him out of practice.

Brown has played through a ton of pain and could well do so again.

“He’s had a number of different injuries throughout this season,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “Nagging injuries more than anything else as you’ve seen. He’s missed practice but he has been ready to go on Sunday.”

Jacobs volunteered on social media that his shoulder is fractured, and him missing practice enitrely -- instead of being limited -- is a slight difference from previous weeks.

The Raiders try to manage his workload during the week to get him as ready as possible for game day.

“We would never put a player in harm, but we’ve managed him and he’s been honest with us in terms of the injury,” Olson said. “Our training staff has done a great job really throughout the week making sure he’s ready to go on Sundays.”

[RELATED: How Carr, Raiders' offense can get back on track vs. Titans]

Right guard Gabe Jackson did not participate in Thursday’s session after being considered limited for a Wednesday walk-through conducted indoors. His participation level on Friday will give further indication of his readiness for Sunday.

Raiders practice report

Did not practice
WR Hunter Renfrow (rib)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
OT Trent Brown (pectoral)
LB Kyle Wilber (ankle)
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)

Limited practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)

Derek Carr details what must get fixed to reignite Raiders offense

Derek Carr details what must get fixed to reignite Raiders offense

ALAMEDA – The Raiders stink. They’re a terrible team after blowout losses against the Jets and Chiefs despite being truly amazing just over a fortnight’s past, when they were coming off a three-game winning streak that made them NFL darlings and a resurgent playoff contender.

That’s the same team we’re talking about, One coming off dramatically different results that have a once confident fan base pulling its hair out heading into Sunday’s vital matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

A win against them at Oakland Coliseum and all is right in the world (again). Lose and it’s apocalypse now.

“I’m excited we get a chance to go compete against a really good football team,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That’s the beautiful thing about this game. You rewind two weeks ago, we were the greatest story in the NFL and two weeks later we suck again, so I think we’ll be alright. (laughter) We are just going to keep grinding. We’re going to stick to what we do.”

Carr admits they’ll have to do better, especially on offense. The passing game is stuck in neutral, revving its engine without moving an inch.

That’s large part receiver issues – Jon Gruden says he’s shaking up that position group this week – and some lackluster quarterback play with two pick-sixes in the last two games. Can’t have that, plain and simple. The Raiders can’t afford the penalty issues plaguing them recently. They can’t afford the nine-quarter touchdown drought that stretched from the Bengals game through the Jets contest and deep into the Chiefs embarrassment. The Raiders beat the Bengals but have been outscored 74-21 in two losses since.

“We’ve had a rough two weeks,” Carr said. “I’ve had a rough two weeks. It’s time to get back on track, it’s time to get back in our stadium, it’s time to be efficient on offense, it’s time to win. I’m excited we get a chance to go compete against a really good football team.”

The Raiders' offense must find a groove after hitting a rough patch, but let’s not forget this unit posted 24 or more points for six straight weeks. They can get going again by finding old magic. The key, Carr says, is staying on schedule and staying balanced. They have to start strong – they aren’t built to overcome large deficits – and avoid major mistakes.

[RELATED: Carr can't say enough about rookie Jacobs' toughness]

That’s how the Raiders did it before. That’s how they can do it again.

“Our execution has not been good enough at all,” Carr said. “Like executing the plays to every detail hasn’t been good enough at all. Turning the ball over myself. I don’t do that. I don’t want to do that. Never been something I’ve wanted to do or been a part of my game and so it doesn’t matter how it happened or why it happened, it happened, and we have to eliminate the turnovers and that starts with me.”