Rookie Nicholas Morrow was a fleet-footed, do-it-all defender in college and it is nice to see that speed and instinct translate in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders.
One of the more inspiring stories, the undrafted free agent hails from Division-III Greenville where he played the hybrid defensive back-linebacker role. Shining in camp and eventually making the roster, head coach Jack Del Rio and his staff gave Morrow more playing time this past Sunday against the New York Jets. The 22-year-old exhibited the quickness, instincts that allowed him to shadow in coverage and sound tackling as he finished with three stops and a pass deflection.
“Yeah, he’s done a nice job. Developing him, he has speed. He was able to do some things in coverage. Yesterday became a coverage game and he ended up getting in there for a good number of snaps,” Del Rio said in Monday’s presser. “We’ll continue to develop him in all areas, developing him on special teams. We need to continue to develop some of our younger players there. We lost some of our veteran experience from last year in that area. Certainly, bringing along a guy like Nick is important for us.”
Morrow wasn’t the lone youngster to impress.
Heralded first-round pick Gareon Conley played 46 snaps (82 percent) and showed up in both coverage (an impressive pass breakup) and run-support (three tackles). Third-rounder Eddie Vanderdoes saw 31 snaps (55 percent) with Treyvon Hester (14, 25 percent) and Marquel Le (10, 18 percent) rounding out the youngsters.
Second-year safety Karl Joseph was all over the field Sunday playing all 56 snaps and racking up his first career sack (strip and fumble recovered) and five tackles. He was joined by sophomore linebacker Cory James (seven tackles) in playing all the defensive snaps. Third-year lineman Mario Edwards Jr. saw 24 snaps and made the most of his time with 1.5 sacks and three tackles.
- Tyrell Adams continues to man the Mike on passing downs as his athleticism was seen as a valuable asset. Against the Jets, however, it was Morrow who flashed with speed and instincts in coverage.
- Amari Cooper was relatively quiet against New York (four catches, 33 yards). Michael Crabtree stole the show hauling in three TDs to finish with the hat trick.
- Jared Cook was also an afterthought (four catches, 25 yards). Although, he could have had a long gain, if not a score if Derek Carr had not been rushed to throw.
- Strong-legged Marquette King is showing off accuracy to boot (pun intended). Averaging 54 yards per punt, the flashy one has dropped three of his six kicks inside the 20.
- “Papa” Giorgio Tavecchio remains a perfect 5-for-5 on field goals (8-for-8 on PATs) in Sebastian Janikowski’s stead. Can Deuce Bigalow continue the streak at Washington?