For the third straight year, the discussion surrounding the Raiders starting weak side linebacker has not been about Nicholas Morrow. A few games into his first two seasons, he had worked his way into that conversation.
As an undrafted rookie in 2017 out of Division III Greenville, not much was expected. He soon outplayed all expectations and bested the Raiders drafted rookie class that season. Despite the promise he showed, when Gruden took over as head coach, Morrow found himself once again fighting an uphill battle. And once again he won that battle, though it took well into the season to do it.
It appeared as if Morrow may have finally showed his coaches he was ready to take the reins at weakside linebacker. But when Brandon Marshall came available, they signed him, and once again Morrow was in the backup role. He has the right philosophy in this position because he’s fought through this before.
“This is not the first time they’ve brought in veterans,” said Morrow. “My rookie year they brought in NaVorro Bowman, second year they brought in Derrick Johnson and E-man (Emmanuel Lamur) and Tahir [Whitehead] and this year they brought in Vontaze [Burfict] and Brandon [Marshall], so I’ve had to take a step back and learn from those guys. The biggest thing is when you’re in this position, is you’ve got to learn. If you just sit there and say ‘man, I got to be playing, it’s my time’ then when your time comes, you’re never ready.”
With the way his career has played out, Morrow has reason to believe in his ability to prove himself as well as faith that his opportunity will come.
The main difference this season is for the first time in his career, he has a strong grasp on the defensive scheme when in his first two seasons he was trying to learn the playbook while also proving himself once again.