The Las Vegas Raiders needed help at the linebacker position and they got it when they signed Cory Littleton. The Washing product hasn’t let his new contract change his approach to the game of football.Â
Cory Littleton fills a need in the Raiders defense
By now, it should be common knowledge the Raiders haven’t paid much attention to their linebacker unit. The last time they drafted one with a high pick was Rolando McClain with the eighth overall pick in 2010. Likewise, they didn’t invest enough money at the position and ended up with veterans such as Vontaze Burfict, Derrick Johnson and NaVorro Bowman in recent years. That approach came to an end when Raiders brass brought in Littleton, who was one of the most coveted players this past free agency.
Last season, the Raiders allowed the third most touchdowns against tight ends with eight. They needed to address that area if they wanted to field a competent defense. Littleton, who is one of the best linebackers in coverage, should help them get the opposing touchdown totals down.
The linebacker hasn’t let his contract go to his head
Before Littleton became one of the best at what he does, he got his start on special teams. He clocked in day in day out until he got his chance to play defense. Once he settled on the linebacker position, he never relented and thrived in his new role. Now that he is a fixture of the Raiders, he hasn’t forgotten how his journey started.
He talked about how important special teams are in the outcome of the game in his latest press conference. Also, he mentioned that he will partake in special teams again if the Raiders determine is in the team’s best interest.
“My start was playing special teams, that was where my value was. I ended up being able to make some plays out there, and I’ve noticed throughout the years that those plays have changed games completely and changed the whole turnout and got us wins. That’s still a part of the game to this day. If I’m needed, I’d love to do it because at the end of the day, the most important thing is winning.”
Â There is plenty of work ahead of the season
The regular season is more or less one month away and there are plenty of things all teams need to work on. Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, who is new to the team too, are currently working on making sure the communication between them is optimal.
“We are linebackers at the end and Nick’s right alongside of me, so we always know we have to protect each other. If we got to give each other the keys of clues for this specific type of play or what’s going on we’ll try to help each other out because we’re still both new, and we are still both learning this, it’s a process. We just try to communicate work through it and then be on our keys before the ball snaps.”
The fact Littleton sees himself as new on the team speaks volumes about his level of preparation and how grounded he is. He has already been to the Super Bowl and is arguably the best linebacker the Raiders have had in many years. Nevertheless, he knows that in order to keep his high level of play, he has to continue working on the fine details.
Although, it may be a bit too early to tell how the Raiders linebacker corps are going to gel, Littleton’s approach should help them work in unison this upcoming season.
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Top Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press