Last week in LA against the Rams, Raiders fans got only a small sample of talented rookie pass rusher Arden Key. He had missed the preseason opener in Oakland with an ankle sprain, so that was the first look fans would get at him.
The man everyone had been hearing so much about in camp had nine snaps, primarily on third down, and wasn’t able to make an impact in the game. That could ultimately be his specialty. At least until he improves his work in the run game. But that wasn’t the reason he saw such a limited role last Saturday.
“I mean, he was coming off of that injury. We were just limiting his snaps to third down for that game, just because we didn’t want to give him 35-40 snaps on the first game. That was the plan going in, get him in there on third downs and let him rush and then as we go to this next game, he’ll play a little bit more.”
Perhaps he was trying too hard to live up to the hype? That’s tough to do in such a short time.
“I think he was a little bit disappointed with a couple of his rushes,” said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. “But, hey, it was his first NFL game, I said relax, go out there and do what you do. You try not to over coach those kinds of guys because Arden is special at what he does, rushing the quarterback. So, hopefully he’ll get some more snaps in this game and we’ll have him ready for the first week.”
Key was the most exciting young player in Raiders training camp this year. The rookie third round pick has watched as fell drafted defensive linemen P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst have each gotten a sack already. Hall got his on his first snap. Key’s turn could be coming up Friday.