The defense for the Las Vegas Raiders took a step in the right direction in the team’s Week 4 victory over the Denver Broncos. The 23 points allowed was a season low, and the pass rush more than doubled their sack total for the season.
But make no mistake, there is still plenty of room for improvement at every level, and some serious help looks to be on the way. The linebacking core was a big question make with some unproven players being relied upon, but now defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is reuniting with one of his best players from his time with the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.
Amongst a couple of other minor moves, the Raiders announced that they have signed linebacker Blake Martinez to the practice squad:
#Raiders roster moves:
– Signed T Jackson Barton to the practice squad
– Signed LB Blake Martinez to the practice squad
– C Billy Price was signed to the Arizona Cardinals active roster from the Raiders practice squad
— Raiders PR (@RAIDERS_PR) October 4, 2022
Martinez was originally a draft pick of the Packers back in 2016, and after his rookie season became one of the most reliable tackling linebackers in the entire league. From 2017-2020 Martinez never missed a game and totaled at least 144 tackles in each season. The first three of those years came in Green Bay, with him then joining the Giants in 2020, where Graham was defensive coordinator after serving as Packers linebackers coach in 2018.
Last season, however, was cut short for Martinez as he suffered a torn ACL in Week 3. As such, it will likely take some time for him to truly get back to speed and knock some rust off, as it has been more than a year since he has taken the field.
Martinez will now join Divine Deablo and Jayon Brown as the Raiders main linebackers. Deablo leads the Raiders so far this season with 38 tackles which is tied for eighth in the NFL, while Brown has 22. But neither has any tackles for loss so far this season, while Martinez totaled 34 combined in that same 2017-20 run.