clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bruce Irvin on 'scary' LB duo with Khalil Mack, how Ken Norton Jr saved his career

New, comments
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Since the moment former Seahawks Bruce Irvin agreed to terms with the Raiders, he has been out of his mind excited. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. And to hear him tell it, you can completely understand just why he is so turnt.

First and foremost, he is reunited with his former linebackers coach in Seattle Ken Norton Jr, now defensive coordinator in Oakland. A man who very quickly was known for his seemingly endless abundance of energy is the perfect kind of coach for Irvin.

"Ken Norton, that's what he does," Irvin said of Norton's energy. "He's a great guy, one of the main reasons that I decided to get here. I wanted to get back with him. Like I said before, that guy, he's done a lot for me, not only on the field, but off the field. He saved my career by bringing me from defensive end to a linebacker, so I have the utmost respect for that guy."

There had been some who were wondering if Irvin might line up as a defensive end for the Raiders, but that  is not the plan.

"It was a pounding every play (as a defensive end) and then I would be an undersized D-end at 255, 260, so I just felt like playing in more space will allow me to showcase my talents and really help my team."

As a linebacker, he will line up on the opposite side of Khalil Mack. Both have pass rush skills and versatility as a defensive end in a 4-3 or a linebacker in a 3-4. And watching Mack demolish blockers last year to put up 15.5 sacks on the season was also extremely enticing for Irvin.

"Besides Norton, that was the next biggest thing, playing with Khalil," said Irvin. "The guy is a premier rusher. He's on his way to being one of the best rushers in the league.[Denver Broncos OLBs] DeMarcus [Ware] and Von [Miller] laid the blueprint out in the Super Bowl - you've got to have rushers and tandem rushers at that. The AFC West, man, I look at it, it's a lot of tandem rushers. You've got [Kansas City Chiefs LBs Justin] Houston and Tamba [Hali]. You've got Ware and Von. You've got me and Mack. I'm looking forward to playing with him and benefiting off of him, because I know he's going to draw so much attention, it's going to leave me a lot of one-on-one situations, so I've got to make the best of them."

The Raiders are building quite a group of pass rushers. Aside from Mack and Irvin, there's also the possibility that come November, Aldon Smith could be re-signed coming off his suspension. That duo becomes a trio of terror for opposing offenses.

"Yeah, that's scary," Irvin said of the idea of having Aldon Smith as well. "and then potentially Mario Edwards Jr. too. So, pass rush is the key to winning in this league - running the ball and rushing the passer. Me and Mack is scary, but then you add Aldon into that, that's even scarier. I am just happy to be a part of it and be in a great situation in a great town that's just waiting for success. I feel like we're really on the verge of really taking off and turning this thing around up here."

That seems to be a common theme. And Irvin will be a big part of that turnaround.