Last weekend in Minnesota, Mario Edwards Jr had a very good game by all accounts. His big play was a forced fumble in which he drove the left tackle into the backfield and when quarterback Taylor Heinicke stepped up into the pocket, Edwards spun off the tackle and knocked the ball out of Heinicke's hand from behind.
He had a strong day overall and that play highlighted it. It was quite different than the first preseason game, in which he couldn't get any pressure and could rarely get off blocks to make a play in the run game either.
Few players show up with highlight plays in every game and even fewer do it as rookies. For Edwards, though, he has the stigma of not showing consistent effort which he carries from his college days at Florida State.
"I think if you watch him on film, you watch him in college, you watch the effort, the attitude, the playmaking," said Ken Norton Jr. "You can always tell good players when they're around the ball a lot. When they're making plays, the ball is tackled or sacked or intercepted and you see the same number keep showing up again around the ball. That's the sign of a good player and that's the sign that you want to see. When you don't see him show up in the frame, that's a problem."
With that reputation -- fair or not -- his coaches are always vigilant to see if their rookie defensive end can be consistent. In particular they want to see the kind of performance he had against the Vikings when the Raiders face the Cardinals this Sunday.
"I think he's progressing very nicely," Jack Del Rio said of Edwards. "He had a much-improved week of practice, a much-improved outing in the game and definitely trending the way we want to see it go. Again, just want to see more, want to see continued effort and energy the way he provided it last week."
Edwards will likely get fewer snaps this week than he had in the first two preseason games. On one hand, it should be easier for him to give full effort on every play. On the other hand he will have fewer opportunities to put another highlight play on film for his coaches. That kind of playing time will occur in the final preseason in Seattle.