Raiders' Mayowa Is Making the Most of His Opportunities

Well-traveled veteran defensive end leads Oakland in sacks, even while playing a limited role

Benson Mayowa has been around the NFL. He’s no rookie. He’s had his ups and downs in six previous pro seasons, as he’s bounced from Seattle to Oakland to Dallas, Arizona and Oakland again.

The defensive end doesn’t play an every-down role for the Raiders, yet has had an impact. He’s played in just four games for 3-2 Oakland – he was listed as inactive for the victory over the Colts – yet leads the team in sacks with 4½ and has two forced fumbles and eight tackles, with four other quarterback hits. The analytic website Pro Football Focus grades him as the third-most efficient pass rusher in the league. In a win over the Bears in London, before the team had a bye week, Mayowa had eight pressures on 24 pass rushes.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden admires the way Mayowa plays.

"He’s a great effort player," Gruden said recently. "He goes the same speed every snap. … His motor, his get-off, his tenacity, his ability to finish plays is a big part of his success, always has been."

The Raiders brought back Mayowa this offseason to help bolster a pass rush that produced a league-low 13 sacks in 2018. Last season, over 15 games with Arizona in a mostly non-starting role, Mayowa had four sacks. His career high is six with the Cowboys in 2016. In two previous seasons with the Raiders in 2014-2015, he had two sacks, also in a situational role.

As Marcus Mosher of Raiders Wire pointed out this week, Mayowa has stepped in and produced at defensive end as No. 1 pick Clelin Ferrell and Arden Key have missed time with injuries.

Wrote Mosher: "As the season goes along, the team is going to rely on Mayowa to help get to the quarterback, even if he doesn’t play every down in Paul Guenther’s defense. Mayowa becoming a productive rotational defensive end has been a surprising development."

Mayowa gets his next opportunity this Sunday in Green Bay against the 5-1 Packers. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.

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