The Raiders loved what they saw of defensive tackle Maurice Hurst in his rookie season.
The former Michigan standout, taken in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, played 13 games and started 10. At times he showed the strength and quickness that made him one of the highest-graded players at his position going into that draft.
Hurst had four sacks and three quarterback hits, was in on 31 tackles (including two for losses), had a forced fumble and three batted-down passes.
But this season, Hurst got off to a slow start and lost playing time to both P.J. Hall – also in his second season – and veteran Johnathan Hankins. In Hurst's first two games against Denver and Kansas City, Hurst was in on just three total tackles. He was in on four tackles vs. the Vikings in Game 3, but then was absent from the stat sheet in a victory over the Colts, despite playing 36 snaps.
Against the Bears in London, however, Hurst made a splash, getting two sacks in a 24-21 victory that improved Oakland’s record to 3-2.
The analytic website Pro Football Focus wrote that Hurst "showed up big in Week 5."
Added PFF: "His 81.9 overall grade was second on the (Raiders) defense, and his 75.1 pass-rushing grade was the highest. … Across his 24 pass-rushing snaps, Hurst registered four total pressures with two sacks and two hurries."
He also had a roughing-the-passer penalty, however, that wiped out an interception.
However, Hurst now appears to be regaining the form he had in 2018, and could force his way into more playing time Sunday in Green Bay against the 5-1 Packers.
Certainly, Hurst now seems to be playing with a bit of an edge.
After the victory over the Bears, he even took a shot at the media – one outlet in particular – because he said he the Raiders hadn’t been getting much respect.
"If you watch any of the ESPN channels, nobody’s talking about us," Hurst told reporters.
Before this season, the Raiders and a few NFL analysts saw big things ahead for Hurst. Doug Farrar of the Touchdown Wire listed Hurst among his second-year breakout candidates.
Wrote Farrar: "If Hurst stays healthy, he has the speed through gaps and strong hand movement to dominate offensive linemen throughout the league."
Sunday’s game in Green Bay is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m.