The Raiders have been excited about pass rusher Arden Key since training camp began. But on Monday, Key took his game to an even higher level.
In practice Monday, Key put a great move on Pro Bowl guard Kelechi Osemele, who rarely gets beaten.
Wrote observer Levi Damien of SB Nation: “He beat (Osemele) bad. Osemele tried to jam him in his chest and with one motion he swiped over Osemele’s arm and went by him. Osemele was left standing there blocking air as Key was chasing down his QB.”
Key’s play came on the same day the team released its first depth chart of the season, in which Key – a rookie from LSU – is listed as the backup to Bruce Irvin at one defensive end spot. Key figures to get plenty of snaps this Friday night in the team’s first exhibition game against the Detroit Lions.
“We love Key,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden told Damien and other reporters after practice. “We’ve liked him since the draft process. We’ve felt lucky to get him where we got him. You go back two years ago and watch him at LSU, he’s as good an edge rusher as there is in the country. He struggled a little bit his last season in Baton Rouge but Chuck Smith, who is his private coach in the offseason, sent us a lot of videos and kept us up to speed.
“There are some things this kid can do that is very special.”
Key, who is 6-foot-5, has a long, lean body that reminds some of former 49ers and Raiders pass-rush standout Aldon Smith. Like Smith, Key will wear No. 99. The Raiders selected him in the third round of this year’s draft.
“He’s a really natural rusher,” Irvin told the media Monday. “He reminds me a lot of the old 99 that was here. If he keeps his head on straight, which he will, he’s going to be a hell of a player and a hell of a player for the Raiders. Can’t wait to see what he’s going to do this year.”
All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack remains a camp holdout, hoping he and the team can come to terms on a new contract as he heads into the final season of his rookie deal. With Irvin and Mack at the defensive ends, Key could give the Raiders a third strong option on the edge. Or, if Mack continues to stay out, it’s possible Key could move into Mack’s role.
The Raiders will host the Lions at O.co Coliseum Friday at 7:30 p.m.