ALAMEDA – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played for the Raiders before he fully practiced. The veteran defensive back signed with the Silver and Black on Wednesday afternoon and played eight snaps against Green Bay two days later.
Rodgers-Cromartie didn't see that coming.
"No sir, I didn't. That was a big surprise," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "It did feel good to be out there running around and getting back into game mode."
There was only a walk through in between, without enough time to know much of anything about the Paul Guenther's scheme.
"I was praying he called Cover 1, man-to-man," he said, "where I wouldn't have to think too much."
Guenther didn't put his new guy in a bad spot. Rodgers-Cromartie got some work and started his crash course in all things Raiders football.
"The main thing is getting your feet back under you," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "You have to get to know the guys and how they play and then just to put on pads. That's real tough. To come to a new scheme where the wording is different isn't easy either, but you understand the concepts coverage. You focus on that and adjust to how it's worded."
Rodgers-Cromartie will have some help in that regard. He knows cornerback Leon Hall from their days together with the New York Giants, and can lean on him to work through foreign terminology and adjustments. Hall's a perfect resource in that regard, someone with extensive work within Guenther's scheme in Cincinnati.
Guenther likes his defensive backs to be versatile. That's what helped bring Marcus Gilchrist into the fray. The same could be said about Rodgers-Cromartie, who can play several different secondary spots.
"That's what I love about the acquisition," head coach Jon Gruden said. "I think he's a corner. I think he's a guy that can play the nickel because he's played the nickel. You can put him in there in a dime position. He can play deep. He's played in every defense known to man and he can still run. He has size and length. Right now he's mastering our defense. We'll try to get a few snaps, hopefully, from him at Seattle (Thursday in the exhibition finale) and see what happens."
Not much happened for Rodgers-Cromartie this summer. He took four visits, but remained on the open market until last week. He was looking for the right situation, an opportunity to kick start his career. The Giants cut him with a season left on a five-year, $35 million deal he signed in 2014.
Rodgers-Cromartie isn't looking for another big deal. This prove-it deal isn't about money. It's about showing he's still got it.
"I just use it for motivation. When I get an opportunity, they're going to see (I can still play)," Rodgers-Cromartie said. " I'm not really looking for big contracts right now. I'm 11 years in. I just want to play football, to be honest."