After the Raiders signed defensive tackle Gerald McCoy during training camp, coach Jon Gruden practically put bubble wrap around the former All-Pro.
McCoy, who missed last season due to a nasty quad injury, rarely fully participated in practice and was buried on the preseason depth chart. But when McCoy played in the Raiders’ final practice game against the 49ers, he looked explosive and primed to impact the Raiders’ defense. And for that, McCoy was thankful.
Here’s a tweet from McCoy expressing as much. He hit send on Tuesday, as the Raiders trimmed their roster to 53 players.
Man what a blessing it is to be back on an NFL roster. I never take any opportunity for granted. It is always a privilege not a right to be in this league. It coulda been so many other guys around this league but God blessed me. And I’m beyond grateful!!
— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) August 31, 2021
McCoy had to work hard to get his body ready for the NFL, so it’s no wonder he expressed such emotion. He must also be happy with how well he played against the 49ers. He got into the backfield with incredible ease. At 33 years of age, McCoy looked like his old self.
That’s just what Gruden needed to see, though he was patient, giving McCoy time to reacclimate to the NFL. Pressure from the interior line was one of Gruden’s initial priorities when he returned to the Raiders, selecting former Raiders P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst — two 3-technique tackles — in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Gruden also desperately anointed ex-Raiders DT Maliek Collins as the “key to the defense” last season. Now, Las Vegas may finally have their inside pressure in the form of McCoy. If he can succeed, the Raiders defense should improve drastically. Luckily for Gruden, McCoy appears plenty motivated.
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