It’s Friday. Which means many things to many people. Reggie McKenzie likes to handle business on Fridays. Or at least he likes to officially announce that business, anyway. It also marks exactly a week until the Raiders report to training camp in Napa.
But for our purposes today, it’s 51 days until the Raiders’ season opener in Tennessee. So, we look at the man wearing number 51 for the team.
LB Bruce Irvin
Entering his second season with the Raiders, Irvin has enjoyed being the bookend pass rusher opposite Khalil Mack. He started all 16 games for the first time in his career after the former first round pick spent his first four seasons in Seattle, resulting in a career high 57 combined tackles (47 solo).
His 7.0 sacks were second on the team to only Khalil Mack (11.0) and were the second most of his career (he had 8.0 as a rookie in 2012). His 6 forced fumbles led the league and was more than he’d had in the rest of his career combined (4).
Aside from his passionate play on the field, he is a vocal presence in the locker room and even in the recruitment of outside players. He fancies himself “Baby Reggie” for his attempts to woo potential free agents to come to the Raiders. He also calls himself ‘Robin’ to Mack’s ‘Batman’. And considering they had 18.0 of the Raiders NFL low 25 sacks, this team very much needs this dynamic duo.
Who wore it best: DE Lance Johnstone
Originally drafted by the Raiders in the second round of the 1996 draft. This pass rushing end played the first five seasons of his career in Oakland. Two of those seasons (1998-99) he started every game and had 11.0 and 10.0 sacks respectively.
Following the 2000 season, he left for Minnesota and played with the Vikings for five seasons. And again, he had consecutive seasons with double digits sacks - 10.0 in 2003 and 11.0 in 2004. After one more season with the Vikings he returned to play for the Raiders in 2006, reclaiming his number 51 upon his return. That was his final NFL season, calling it a career after 11 seasons. In total he had 72 career sacks, 31 of which came as a Raider — which is tied for ninth most in franchise history.