In a Las Vegas Raiders secondary needing some stability, cornerback Tyler Hall provides a much-needed calming reprieve. The undrafted free agent’s ascension from practice squad add to a 53-man roster mainstay helped quell what could’ve been another dire moment — Anthony Averett landing on IR (again).
Hall, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound undrafted free agent out of Wyoming, isn’t going to wow you on physical attributes or statistics through his initial two seasons in the NFL (rookie year spent with the Atlanta Falcons and 2021 with the Los Angeles Rams). But he’s made quite the impression with the Raiders coaching staff by being a smart and instinctive player in both practices and games.
“Nothing has been too big for him, and it starts with communication and working with the other guys in the secondary and the linebacking core and making sure that you’re where you’re supposed to be,” Las Vegas head coach Josh McDaniels said of Hall. “And I think he’s done a decent job of that. That has kind of that stood out even before we elevated him. He understands the game plan, he understands his role, what we’re asking him to do. He tries to play his assignment the way he’s been coached to play it, which I love.”
In two games with the Raiders (one a start) Hall has five total tackles and a sack. Not particularly eye-popping numbers, but he’s avoid mental lapses which helped facilitate his transition from practice squad call up to being on the active roster.
“He competes, he tackles, he competes in coverage, and he plays hard,” McDaniels said. “So, for a young guy like that he brings some speed and some burst to our defense and some toughness, and like I said, there’s a maturity to him. Even though he’s a young player, there’s a maturity to him. So again, that’s the way you earn playing time, you get an opportunity, and you make the most of it, and then you earn more, and he’s a good example of that.”
A fundamentally sound player on the much-maligned Las Vegas defense seems like a godsend, that’s how bad it’s been at times. And it’s no surprise to see Hall, a player that’s come out of nowhere, log 18 defensive snaps in his first game in Silver & Black and then 32 last week against the Seahawks. Hall’s grind-for-playing-time is something McDaniels and his coaches want from the available Raiders.
Take for example fellow undrafted cornerback Sam Webb. The Missouri Western State product was immolated in Week 11 against the Denver Broncos after getting picked on in coverage. Instead of seeing his snaps dwindle the following week, however, Webb got 47 snaps against the Seahawks and played much better than the week prior.
“Everybody bounces back from their past experience,” Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said when asked about Webb’s ability to rebound. “Some of the best learning I’ve had has been from defeats. I remember my first game as a coordinator, I mean you could look it up. It’s about as embarrassing as it gets. (laughter) Definitely not how I saw it going. I’ve learned from that, but we all learn from our experiences. They’re football players; we’re coaches. We get paid to do something and you got to bounce back. It’s a week-to-week league, and that’s what we have to do.”
The ultimate examples of individual Raiders who continue to grind are: Maxx Crosby, Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs and Derek Carr. All four rarely come off the field and have repeatedly shown the ability to rebound after turmoil. Crosby is the Raiders sack leader and best defender with 10.5 quarterback takedowns along with 67 total tackles and 17 stops for loss. Adams is the top receiving option with 10 touchdowns and 999 yards on 71 catches. Jacobs is one of the league’s best tailbacks with nine scores and 1,159 yards on 216 carries. Carr shook off the two early interceptions last week to fire three touchdown passes and keep the Raiders offense in sync.
Group-wise, Las Vegas’ offensive line showed tremendous growth from the growing pains weeks of the early portion of the year to now.
McDaniels and the Raiders staff expects the team to continue all ahead forward, especially against an equally determined Los Angeles Chargers team that’s already beaten the Silver & Black once this year — 24-19 at SoFi Stadium in the season opener. Las Vegas is hoping to see more of the grit the team showed against Seattle last Sunday, this Sunday.
“I think it speaks to the entire team’s mentality. I mean, you throw an interception on the first play of the game, it’s going to challenge your mental toughness,” Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi said. “And then you go out there and we got the ball and scored on the next series a touchdown. But then we turned it over on the following series. How we handle that, not only as an offense, but as a defense and a kicking unit, is big and it speaks to a lot of the guys in terms of next play mentality moving forward. Especially Derek, the skill guys on offense, the offensive line; but it’s a really a team thing.”