This time next week, the Raiders rookies and quarterbacks will be wrapping up their 3-day pre-camp warmup. So, yeah, training camp is creeping up soon. The Raiders season officially starts in 53 days. There’s a new number 53 in Oakland. Let’s meet him.
LB Jelani Jenkins
Despite a glaring need on the defense, the Raiders focused almost solely on the offensive side of the ball in free agency. All save one addition — Jelani Jenkins. The former Dolphin signed with the team on a one-year deal.
This former 4th round pick was a full time starter in Miami the past three seasons. Last season Jenkins was battling a knee injury through seven games, then tried to return and re-aggravated the injury and missed the remainder of the season.
He is a weakside linebacker who has speed and coverage skills. The team hopes he can take over for former starter Malcolm Smith and be the kind of coverage linebacker the team had hoped his former Florida teammate Neiron Ball could be. Ball was released this month due to constant injury problems.
He was eased into things this offseaon and never worked with the first team, but the assumption is that he will be given every opportunity to win a starting job.
Who wore it best: LB Rod Martin (1977-88)
As the Raiders 12th round pick in 1977, he was one of the biggest draft steals in franchise history. He just missed out on being part of the ‘76 Super Bowl squad, but he was a big part of the next two Super Bowls. His claim to fame came in Super Bowl XV when he intercepted Eagles QB Ron Jaworski three times and the Raiders ran away with their second Lombardi Trophy.
Martin played every game of his 12-year career NFL with the Raiders and was an everyday starting outside linebacker for a full decade from 1979-88. During that time he went to two Pro Bowls and was named All Pro once.