Ahead of their Thursday Night match-up against the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders are putting rookie defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. on Injured Reserve with a neck injury. Edwards was the 35th overall pick of last spring’s NFL Draft, and he currently leads Oakland’s defensive line in tackles.
The Raiders’ defensive line has improved dramatically from last season to this one, along with most of the team’s units. Last season, the team sacked opposing quarterbacks only 22 times, led by five sacks from Justin Tuck. Through only 14 games this season, Oakland already has 36 sacks, led by an incredible 15 sacks from second-year linebacker Khalil Mack. Edwards is currently tied for fourth in the team with 2.5 sacks, behind Mack, linebacker Malcolm Smith, and the embattled defensive lineman Aldon Smith.
Edwards’ 33 tackles this year are by far the most of any rookie defensive lineman this season — second place belongs to Leonard Williams of the New York Jets and Malcolm Brown of the New England Patriots, who each have 24. Edwards’ success is a continuation of the success that Oakland General Manager Reggie McKenzie has had beyond the first round of the draft, where McKenzie has recently selected valuable players like Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, Mychal Rivera, and Sio Moore.