Back in February, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie noted that the neck injury to defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. might be genetic and more serious than first believed.
When asked if it could even be career-threatening, McKenzie said, “I don’t want to think along those lines right now.”
Four months later, it appears the worst fears have been alleviated.
As the Raiders began full-squad mandatory minicamp this week, the second-year standout – who came on strong in his rookie season to justify his status as a high second-round pick – said he’s healthy, fit and good to go.
“It felt great to be back with the team out there working with the guys, and ready for the next day,” Edwards told reporters after his first practice Tuesday.
He said he suffered a neck sprain – nothing more.
Now he’s eager to play a big role on a revised defensive unit that’s added linebacker Bruce Irvin, cornerback Sean Smith, safety Reggie Nelson and No. 1 draft pick Karl Joseph, also a safety.
“I know what work I have to put in this year to pick up where I left off,” Edwards told the media. “So that’s what I’m focusing on now.”
Though he hasn’t been able to take part significantly in previous offseason programs, Edwards was complimented by head coach Jack Del Rio on his conditioning, saying: “Looks like he’s been working hard.”
Edwards missed the final two games of 2015 but still had 41 tackles and two sacks in an expanding role.
Del Rio told the San Jose Mercury News Tuesday that he’s eager to see what Edwards can do in Year 2.
“Sky’s the limit,” said Del Rio. “He’s a really talented player.”