Las Vegas Raiders; Maxx Crosby

Week 4 Key Raiders Matchup: Maxx Crosby vs. Rashawn Slater

The Las Vegas Raiders will set out to improve their record to a respectable 2-2 through four weeks. It won’t be an easy feat, as their divisional rival, the Los Angeles Chargers, face the same 1-3 reality with a loss. In what should be a heated battle between foes, a potential matchup of Maxx Crosby vs. Rashawn Slater serves as the headliner.

Tale Of The Tape: Maxx Crosby vs. Rashawn Slater

So far in 2023, Crosby has been the best player on the Silver and Black defense. Granted, that is a low bar to accomplish, but a feat nonetheless. With his reputation comes constant double teams, leaving the star pass rusher completely taken out of snaps at times.

However, even in the face of game plans designed specifically to slow him down, Crosby is still finding his way into the backfield. “Mad Maxx” is second in the NFL with 19 total quarterback pressures, including 15 hurries, two hits, and two sacks.

There are some instances where Crosby grows frustrated when he fails to shed double and triple-team blocking. The former fourth-rounder has also been somewhat inefficient when he does make it into the backfield, with multiple occasions of whiffing on a potential tackle or working too hard for a sack and giving up contain.

The Raiders Need To Make Justin Herbert Uncomfortable

All that said, the Raiders would surely be 0-3 without the efforts of Crosby. But can the $100 million man find paydirt on Sunday against the Justin Herbert-led Chargers? It will be no small task, as left tackle Rashawn Slater is a superstar in his own right.

Slater burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2021 by earning the starting spot on the blindside. As a rookie, the Northwestern product quickly became one of the premier blockers in the league. His 80+ PFF grade in both run blocking and pass blocking highlights how effective the bowling ball lineman is on an every-down basis.

After missing nearly the entire 2022 campaign with injury, Slater has returned to the starting lineup and regained form, at least in pass protection. With a sparkling 88.2 grade in 144 pass-blocking reps, the 24-year-old lineman has yet to surrender a sack.

Push will come to shove in Week 4. That is if Maxx Crosby is even able to suit up. The veteran has never missed a game in his NFL career. But after popping up on the injury report with a knee ailment, forcing him to miss practice, he officially carries a “questionable” status heading into the weekend.

But fear not. Josh McDaniels called the absence from practice Thursday more of a precautionary move than anything. The second-year head coach is optimistic that Crosby will be on the field for the Silver and Black, a sentiment supported by his return to practice Friday. And boy, do the Raiders need a monster game from their franchise cornerstone on Sunday.

Crosby Is Poised For A Big Day vs. The Chargers

Keep an eye on the Crosby vs. Slater chess match. As we know, the Raiders like to move the versatile pass rusher around the alignment, so there may not be a ton of opportunities for the two elite talents to lock horns. But on the snaps they line up across each other, it immediately becomes appointment television.

Here’s to hoping Crosby plays this weekend and gets the best of his head-to-head showdown with Slater. If Vegas cannot create pressure on Herbert, it will be a long, long day for the team’s secondary. This is as close to a “must-win” as the Raiders can have in the opening month.

*Top Photo: Chris Unger/Getty Images

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