ALAMEDA – Arden Key had a strong preseason. The second-year edge rusher showed significant improvement in his run defense, with gains in size and strength that aid his pass rush.
Quality summer work hasn't set him on a hot start. Key has just three quarterback pressures – one quarterback hit and two hurries – in his first two games.
He has played a total of 52 snaps, with 40 of those rushing the passer.
They haven't been terribly productive early in the year. The Raiders were hoping for the opposite, to get quality from Key as a situational pass rusher.
That hasn't been the case to this point, something head coach Jon Gruden was frank about during his Monday press conference.
"We have got to get more out of Arden. I've said that for long enough," Gruden said. "Arden, if you are listening, we got to get you going. He's a good player. He's had a good training camp; he's healthy.
"We put our defensive line in some tough spots yesterday for a lot of reasons to try and stop their running game, and it did stymie I think some of the guys' ability to rush the passer, but Arden is going to get home. Arden is going to take off here hopefully soon."
Key is generally active in the sub package, working with Maxx Crosby or Benson Mayowa on the edge and Clelin Ferrell and other rotating rusher on the inside.
The Raiders need production from Key to make that package successful, lest last year's pass-rushing struggles linger on in 2019.