Raiders rookie defensive tackle Maurice Hurst didn’t play in his team’s final game of the season against the Chiefs because of an ankle injury. In fact, he missed three of the Raiders’ final four games because of that injury.
But it’s the games Hurst did play that the team will remember as it heads toward 2019.
Hurst, the rookie from Michigan, was an impact player when he was on the field. The 6-foot-2, 291-pounder – a first-round talent who slipped to the fifth round because of a health concern that later was cleared – led the Raiders with four sacks and gave the team a physical, aggressive talent in the middle of the defensive line. Hurst was in on 31 tackles (three for loss) and had three quarterback hits, a forced fumble and three batted-down passes in 13 games.
His biggest game came in a 45-42 overtime win over the Browns, when he had four tackles, a sack, the forced fumble and a batted pass.
“He’s grown leaps and bounds,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther told the Detroit News in late December. “We knew we drafted a good player when we took him and he has not disappointed. He’s done a good job in both the run and the pass. He’s been able to push the pocket some on third down, so he’s going to be a great player for us.”
The fact Hurst led the Raiders with just four sacks is a sore point for the team. The Raiders ranked last in the NFL with 13 sacks, 17 below the next-worst teams (Patriots and Giants tied with 30). This offseason, one of the Raiders’ primary goals will be to add edge rushers who can complement the inside push of Hurst and fellow 2018 rookie P.J. Hall.
Hurst is looking forward to coming back strong from the ankle problem and contributing more in 2019.
“Just keep developing, have a big offseason and get ready for next year,” he said.