Keeping it going as we count down to the 2017 season. Today we hit 97 days which means we profile the man who currently dons the number 97 in Silver & Black.
DE Mario Edwards Jr
For two years Edwards has been the great hope for the Raiders defense. The team's second round pick in 2015, he comes with as much skepticism as he did hopes and expectations. Part way through his rookie season, he was looking like he would live up to all those hopes, putting up 42 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 2 passes defended, and a forced fumble while starting 10 games.
A neck injury late in his rookie season would put a stop to that and start a long offseason recovery. There were even worries it could upend his career. That scare hasn’t materialized, but injuries have still hounded him.
By the time last season was rolling around, he was fully healed from the neck injury and looking like he could pick up where he left off as a rookie. Then he went down with a hip injury. And yet again, it was a long road to recovery. One which had him out until the final two games of the season. And even then, he was not able to perform at a high level, putting up just two combined tackles.
With Edwards out, the interior defensive line offered of the worst pass rushes in the league. The defense put up an NFL-worst 25.0 sacks despite getting 18.0 from the duo of Khalil Mack (11.0) and Bruce Irvin (7.0).
Once again, the Raiders will look to Edwards to be the savior. A worrisome proposition to say the least. The only reason they have to believe in him is having taken him in the second round of the draft and a handful of games as a rookie in which he showed great promise. But if he can shake the injury bug, he could be the key to lifting the Raiders’ 26th ranked defense.
Who wore it best: DT John Parrella (2002-04)
He finished off his NFL career with the Raiders after 8 seasons anchoring the Chargersdefensive line. He spent three seasons in Oakland. The first of those seasons, he was a starter for the Raiders in the Super Bowl. It was his only season in which he played in every game as the fulltime starter. In 2003, he was lost to injury after five games. He appeared in all 16 games in 2004, but didn't start and called it a career after that.