Connect with us



Las Vegas Raiders Training Camp 8/13


Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell, right, stretches during an NFL football training camp practice Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in Henderson, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher, Pool)

When Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell started seeing teammates and friends across the NFL come down with coronavirus earlier this year, he had a realization and accepted that he may one day test positive too.

That made his recent bout with the virus easier to deal with mentally. It was another story physically.

“I wasn’t asymptomatic,” Ferrell said on Wednesday. “I had the symptoms. I was like, ‘Whew, this thing is really real.’ You know what I mean? That was really crazy.”

Ferrell practiced for the second time since coming off the COVID-19 list Wednesday morning at the Raiders’ team facility in Henderson. He fell ill two weeks ago, and though he’s better now, his conditioning isn’t yet at the level it was earlier in the season.

He believes he can work himself into shape in time for Sunday morning’s contest at the New York Jets, however, as the former No. 4 overall NFL Draft pick can’t imagine missing a third straight game.

“The hardest part was definitely not playing,” Ferrell said. “Losing a tough one to Kansas City … obviously we win that game and we’re at the forefront of the division. And then watching last week, obviously that was a big embarrassment to us as a team so just not being able to be a part of that was really, really tough.”

The Raiders missed Ferrell as much as he missed them. After a somewhat underwhelming rookie campaign, Ferrell has emerged as one of the Raiders’ best players in their first year in Las Vegas.

His absence has been evident in a two-game losing streak, especially in the 35-31 loss to the Chiefs that prevented the Raiders from achieving the season sweep against the defending Super Bowl champions. Ferrell was a major part of the first victory over Kansas City, as he led the charge in Las Vegas’ defensive front constantly pestering Patrick Mahomes with a 44 percent pressure rate.

In the rematch loss without Ferrell, the Raiders’ pressure rate against Mahomes fell to 12.8 percent.

“We need to get a lot more pass rush than we’ve had, period,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “I remember even days when we had great days rushing the passer, it’s never good enough. We’ve got to get a lot more consistent pressure on the passer, that’s where it starts and we’re not happy with it yet.”

Ferrell is far from a cure-all from a pressure perspective, as he’s continued to somewhat disappoint from an edge-rushing perspective. Without a sack on the season, Ferrell deserves to shoulder a large part of the blame for why Las Vegas rates last in the NFL with a 2.77% sack rate.

But he’s helped make up for his shortcomings from a sack standpoint by balancing his ability to create pressure with overpowering gap-control. Opponents have largely been shut down when they’ve run toward Ferrell, who’s also shown a great deal of flexibility in playing different positions.

He’s arguably played his best this season when lined up in an interior position on the defensive line, a slot it’s beginning to look increasingly likely he’ll be asked to fill against the Jets. Gruden announced that the Raiders put defensive tackle Maliek Collins on short-term injured reserve on Wednesday with an unspecified injury and top backup Maurice Hurst missed practice with ankle and calf injuries.

That leaves a pair of defensive tackles who have only been on the active roster sporadically this season, Chris Smith and Daniel Ross, as the sole healthy players at the position next to starter Johnathan Hankins.

“We’ll have to find some help. If you know somebody, call me,” Gruden joked.

In all reality, Gruden won’t have to look far. In similar situations earlier in the season, the Raiders didn’t hesitate to move Ferrell to defensive tackle.

Ferrell even put on weight in the offseason, bulking up to make sure he would be capable in the middle. He could have lost some of the resulting strength because of the virus, but Ferrell said he fought through fatigue to work out while quarantined.

He may not have felt his best, but throughout his time with the virus, Ferrell stayed positive by thinking about his return to the field.

“The mental focus when I go two weeks without playing, there’s nothing stopping me,” Ferrell said. “I don’t really care about the virus. All I care about is getting back on the field and playing football. I’m trying to get to the playoffs and Super Bowl. That’s all that really matters. That’s really overpowering any other self-doubt I have about the virus.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun