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Raiders at Jets

Bill Kostroun / Associated Press

Las Vegas Raiders’ Clelin Ferrell, right, celebrates a turnover with teammates during the first half an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J.

With only seconds to spare before the Jets snapped the ball for a play late in the first half on Sunday, Vic Beasley turned to Clelin Ferrell and suggested they run a pass-rushing stunt.

Ferrell went with it and wound up with one of the best plays of his professional career. While Jets left tackle Mekhi Becton’s attention was temporarily diverted to Beasley, Ferrell dipped past him and leveled Sam Darnold from the quarterback’s blindside to cause a fumble the Raiders recovered.

It was the second-year defensive end’s second strip-sack of the game and kept the Jets from adding a field goal — they were already in range — going into halftime.

“I was really just going to spy the quarterback on that play, but (Beasley) did a good job of calling that and it came up,” Ferrell said after the game.

Playing a handful of snaps alongside Beasley for the first time since the Raiders signed the veteran former All-Pro two weeks ago proved not only fruitful for Ferrell, but also surreal. Ferrell described Beasley as someone he’s looked up to ever since he was in high school.

Beasley was a two-time All-American defensive end at Clemson while Ferrell was building himself into a top-100 nationally ranked recruit at Benedictine College Preparatory in Richmond, Va. Ferrell ultimately decided to follow in Beasley’s footsteps and commit to Clemson, arriving on campus for his freshman season months after the latter was taken eighth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Immediately, comparisons were made between Ferrell and Beasley among the Clemson fan base with coach Dabo Swinney even telling the The Post and Courier at the time that they were not “unfair for his potential.”

Ferrell turned out to be every bit as productive as his predecessor, making one All-American team of his own and helping the Tigers to a pair of national championships. He did something Beasley didn’t in declaring for the NFL Draft after his junior season.

Ferrell gave a reminder of that part of his history along with his pleasantries upon the Beasley’s recent arrival to the Raiders.

“I told him if I would have went back for my senior year, I would have broken all his records,” Ferrell said with a smile. “I think I was six sacks away from his sacks record and eight TFLs away from his tackle for loss records.”

The similarities between Ferrell and Beasley have continued with their professional trajectories. After an up-and-down rookie season with the Atlanta Falcons, Beasley broke out in his second year and led the NFL with 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.

Ferrell’s statistics haven’t skyrocketed the same way this year, but he’s become a much more consistent and dangerous player. In his first game back from coronavirus, Ferrell broke out against the Jets with six tackles and three quarterback hits including his pair of sacks.

“He made some impact plays,” Gruden said after the game. “That’s what we need from him. He’s a hard-nosed, energizing finishing player.”

Ferrell will be essential to the Raiders’ hopes for the rest of the season and likely for years to come, but Beasley’s role is less solidified. Despite his indirect contribution of helping Ferrell get into position against the Jets, Beasley recorded no statistics in the eight snaps he spent on the field.

He was also mostly invisible in five games to start the season with the Tennessee Titans before the team eventually cut him. The Raiders signed him to their practice squad with hopes that a change of scenery could help, and so far, the coaching staff has hinted that they got more than expected.

“He’s got really good first step quickness,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “He’s really smart, he’s picked up the playbook. He adds some speed to our front.”

Las Vegas demonstrated its belief in Beasley by making him active in New York. Beasley got the final defensive-line spot on the roster over Carl Nassib, whom the Raiders signed to a three-year, $25 million contract this offseason.

Gruden said the defensive-line situation would continue to be fluid on a weekly basis.

“We try to play the guys that have the best weeks of practice,” he said. “We feel like we want to create competition; Vic Beasley is here to create that. He didn’t come here to sit on the bench.”

Ferrell lined up as a defensive tackle on plays where Beasley was next to him. Many edge rushers of Ferrell’s caliber would prefer to not play the interior, but it’s a spot he’s always welcomed.

And now it’s a spot where he can now collaborate with a veteran in Beasley whom he once idolized.

“It’s great to have him on the team because he’s a guy who can add value to any D-line in the league,” Ferrell said.

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

Article written by #LasVegasSun