One key defensive addition for the Raiders in 2017 should come from a player already on the roster: Mario Edwards Jr.
The defensive end, a second-round pick in 2015, was sidelined by a hip issue in the 2016 preseason and didn’t get into a game until December. He played just two regular-season games and the playoff loss to Houston in January. And, when he finally did get on the field, he had little impact. All told, he was in on just four tackles with no sacks.
It was a huge disappointment for Edwards and the Raiders after his promising rookie season, when he played 14 games, started 10, and was in on 42 stops with two sacks, a forced fumble and two batted passes.
Now, as the team goes through its offseason program, Edwards appears primed to again make an impact. The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder looks 100 percent fit and primed to make a big contribution.
At one point this offseason, Edwards posted a video to his Instagram account that showed him rampaging through a drill, spinning and attacking through a line of tackling dummies.
Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie also believes the team will finally see the Edwards who showed such promise in 2015.
“He’s extremely motivated because he wants to show the league that he’s a dominant football player, not just a solid football (player), but he’s dominant,” said McKenzie in an interview on 95.7 The Game this week. “He’s healthy, he’s strong, he’s in a good mindset, so he’s ready to roll, and we’re extremely anxious to see him get going come this season.”
Edwards had been listed at 294 pounds, but he recently posted a shirtless picture of himself on social media that shows him much leaner than he’s been in the past, with the caption, “280 the right way.”
At 280 pounds, Edwards is down to the weight he was when the Raiders scouted him at his pro day at Florida State. While playing for the Seminoles, Edwards had been as much as 310 pounds.