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Raiders pleased with play of rookie defenders, Divine Deablo and Malcolm Koonce

Third-round picks showed up against Washington

NFL: Washington Football Team at Las Vegas Raiders
Divine Deablo
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the bright spots of the Las Vegas Raiders’ home loss to the Washington Football Team on Sunday was the play of third-round picks, linebacker Divine Deablo and defensive end Malcom Koonce.

Deablo has been primarily a special teamer this season and Koonce didn’t play this season until Sunday. Deablo was forced into action because of multiple injuries at linebacker and Koonce was active for the second time this season only because of a knee injury kept key backup Carl Nassib out.

Deablo had 11 tackles and Koonce registered a sack on one of his seven defensive snaps.

Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said this of the rookie’s timely play Sunday:

“We think Divine’s been coming on in practice all the time and getting a lot more reps certainly at the WILL linebacker. He had a chance to go in there and play for us for a little bit, and we had some injuries. We thought he did a good job, and he kept his role on (special) teams as well. It was good to see Malcolm finally get up there and have a chance to make a play and ends up with a good job on the sack, and he had some punt rushes as well. We’ll see what injuries do for us as we go through the next few days in practice. See who we end up with dressing for us in the game.”

It will be interesting to see if Deablo and Koonce will work their ways into the defensive rotation down the stretch. Bisaccia indicated it may be predicated on health at the position. The injured linebackers and Nassib all have a chance to play Sunday at the Kansas City Chiefs, Bisaccia said.

Plus, neither linebacker or defensive end have been a need position this season. So, it may be tough for both Deablo and Koonce to get on the field in 2021 other than for injury reasons. But they did both put a solid show on tape to make their push for bigger roles in 2022.