Former Raiders first-rounder Clelin Ferrell thinks new program can help – Las Vegas Raiders Blog
HENDERSON, Nev. — Clelin Ferrell was starting to feel like he used to when a familiar but unwelcome sensation hit him.
After an offseason and early part of training camp spent marinating in new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme and beginning to apply what he learned on the field, Ferrell’s right ankle went the wrong way. . It was July 27, the first day of padded workouts for the Las Vegas Raiders, and the peak rusher who has come under intense scrutiny since the previous regime used the No. 4 pick on him. in the 2019 draft was ruled out.
He returned last week for a pair of joint workouts with the New England Patriots and the corresponding preseason final. Then that first feeling came back.
“I feel good,” Ferrell said after playing 14 snaps on defense, four more on special teams, in Las Vegas’ 23-6 win over the Patriots. “I just have to find this form of play [after] missed a good part of training camp because of the ankle, but I feel good. I just gotta keep learning, keep on [rehabbing] and take it in week 1 because as you can see the culture has changed for sure. We are well.”
With a change in culture thanks to a new coaching staff, expectations have not diminished for Ferrell. Rather, he’s rising to the challenge as he feels more comfortable in the new defense while fighting for his future with the Raiders.
Because as much as he’s been portrayed as a forgotten man in the Raiders’ pass rush — schoolmate Maxx Crosby is a Pro Bowler who just got a four-year, $99 million extension, l he offseason acquisition Chandler Jones could be on his way to Canton, sophomore defensive end Malcolm Koonce flashed and Tashawn Bower led the NFL with four preseason sacks – Ferrell is biding his time.
“Tashawn was killing it,” Ferrell said of the preseason. “Malcolm, I’m fine. I miss those reps because I wish I could really show what I put together in the offseason. But at the same time, I have to take it one day at a time. God has a plan, and I stick to it.”
As many longtime Raiders watchers have pointed out, it’s not his fault the Raiders drafted him fourth overall. Because, as then-general manager Mike Mayock said at the time, Ferrell was the Raiders’ second-largest defensive end in the draft, presumably behind San Francisco 49ers pro Bowler Nick Bosa, and the rusher was a huge need.
And if anyone on the current roster needs a redo, it’s Ferrell.
“I love everything about [the new defense] because it really stretches you as a football player,” Ferrell said. “It allows you to navigate and really find every inch of what you can potentially do. And for me it’s been a blessing, that’s for sure, for [Graham] ask me to do certain things.
“I think it can make me blossom into something that can really, really thrive.”
Ferrell, who worked alongside Crosby as rookie passing throwers in 2019, had 4.5 sacks in 15 games that year, even as a mid-season illness robbed him of strength and weight. In 2020, a particularly nasty bout with COVID-19 limited him to 11 games and he only had 2.0 sacks.
Last season, essentially replaced by Yannick Ngakoue, Ferrell played all 16 games but didn’t start once and finished with 1.5 sacks.
What’s it like to enjoy a clean slate, again?
“He’s a physical guy, and obviously we want to put a strong physical defense on the field, and Clelin has shown the ability to do that in more than one place,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said. “He put the edge a handful of times [against the Patriots], which is a good thing to see. He was involved in the pass rush, he fell into coverage, in fact, a few times.
“There are a lot of things we ask these guys to do on the edge [and] Cle must definitely be trying to make up for some lost time here, but that’s okay. That’s what these training sessions in the future will mean for him.”
Ferrell, like Crosby, is on his fourth defensive coordinator with the Raiders — Paul Guenther, Rod Marinelli, Gus Bradley and Graham — and says Graham “opened my mind when it comes to football.”
Unlike Crosby, Ferrell is in a contract year, as his fifth-year option was not chosen by McDaniels and new general manager Dave Ziegler (the Raiders’ other two first-rounders in 2019, running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram, didn’t have their fifth-year options either).
“It’s not even about the contract,” Ferrell said. “The most important thing, whether you play well or badly, everything is better when you win.”
The Raiders are coming off a cursed 10-7 season in which they set an NFL record with six straight wins and went to the playoffs for only the second time since 2002. What role could Ferrell play then if Las Vegas returned to the playoffs?
“He was involved in every encounter, he was attentive, he understands what his roles are that we ask him to play, and like I said it was good to have him back there,” said McDaniels. “In the limited number of opportunities he had [against New England] you could see some of the things we’re looking forward to with Clelin.”
So how much extra work could Ferrell get before the Raiders open the season at the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 11?
“Here’s the thing – we have two weeks until the first game,” Ferrell said. “And it’s really more like technique at the pad and just not being out there. More just getting in shape. I had a good base from which to start in camp. It’s mostly about knocking down rust.”