After watching the Raiders take the field for the first time last night in their preseason opener, the next step is regular season football.. That day is now less than 30 days away. There were a few pretty talented players. Including this ageless wonder.
Who wore it best: CB Albert Lewis (1994-98)
Before we stood in awe at Charles Woodson playing into his late 30s, there was Albert Lewis. The four-time Pro Bowler and 2-time All Pro joined the Raiders at the age of 34, after playing the first 11 seasons of his career in Kansas City. He was one of the Raiders starting corners in their first season back in Oakland in 1995 and played five seasons with the team.
As it happens, when the Raiders drafted Woodson in 1998, Lewis switched to safety (just as Woodson did when he returned to the Raiders two years ago) and the two ageless DB's shared a defensive backfield together for one season. In Total, Lewis started 60 games in 78 appearances, missing just five games in five seasons, collecting 4 interceptions, 8.0 sacks, averaging over 55 tackles per season.
Who's wearing it now: S Brandian Ross
Ross was one of Reggie McKenzie's early acquisitions from his Green Bay days. The undrafted defensive back was signed by the Raiders off the Packers' practice squad early in the 2012 season and spent most of that season as a special teamer. In 2013 Ross was thrust into starting duties due to an injury to Tyvon Branch. Ross started nearly the entire season and was ranked as literally the worst safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. The following year, he was among the Raiders' final roster cuts. The Dolphins saw a safety who had started all the previous season and claimed Ross off waivers.
After just three games in Miami, the Dolphins released Ross, and due to another season ending injury to Tyvon Branch that same week, the Raiders re-signed Ross to fill the void. But this time the Raiders moved Charles Woodson to strong safety and put Ross as the free safety. The results were night and day from Ross' season as a strong safety. Suddenly Ross was actually pretty decent. He even stepped in to play a good bit of nickel cornerback at times.
These days Ross is the primary backup safety to newly acquired Nate Allen. Ross is currently injured and missed the first preseason game. If he can return soon, he will make for a solid backup safety and special teamer.