In his first regular-season NFL game since 2017, Richie Incognito was impressive.
The Raiders' starting left guard, who had been suspended by the NFL for the season’s first two games, returned against the Minnesota Vikings this past Sunday in Oakland’s 34-14 loss.
Though the Raiders as a whole didn’t play well, Incognito was strong after sitting out all of 2018. He played his last NFL game two years ago, when he went to the Pro Bowl for the Buffalo Bills.
In fact, Incognito’s Pro Bowl appearance was his third straight and fourth overall. That’s the kind of play the Raiders hope to get from him in 2019 — and what they got against the Vikings.
In fact, the analytic website Pro Football Focus selected Incognito to its NFL Team of the Week for his play. His grade for the game was the second highest in the NFL for a guard, reported PFF.
Wrote Gordon McGuiness of Pro Football Focus: "Incognito looked impressive, allowing just one hurry from 39 pass-blocking snaps for the Raiders. One of the few bright spots for the team, he also impressed as a run-blocker."
Once Gabe Jackson returns from injury to the right guard spot — possibly in the next week or two — the Raiders will finally have the offensive line they envisioned, with Kolton Miller and Trent Brown at the tackles, Incognito and Jackson at the guards and Rodney Hudson at center.
Incognito has been involved in a number of controversial incidents on and off the field during his career. His suspension by the league came after a threatening incident this offseason. He’s also been accused of bullying a teammate.
Now, he says he’s just trying to give the Raiders a great player at guard.
"All the negative stuff is behind me," he told the Fresno Bee recently. "Eyes forward, just staying positive and relishing the opportunity, which is big."
The 1-2 Raiders travel to Indianapolis this week to play the 2-1 Colts Sunday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.