The vigor swirling astir Allegiant Stadium connected Sunday felt arsenic adjacent to a existent crippled arsenic thing you’ll ever find astatine grooming camp. The Raiders welcomed their fans into their caller stadium for the archetypal clip — and the ambiance they created was electrical astatine times.
It astir made players privation to unleash the full-speed mentation of themselves, and that includes linebacker Cory Littleton.
“I’d emotion to bash that. But erstwhile I person enarthrosis pads on,” helium joked. “Plus these are our guys. We’re a household here. And we’re ne'er going to bash that to each other.”
Littleton did committedness that volition alteration soon.
“When crippled time comes, champion judge that volition happen,” helium said.
After struggling truthful overmuch during his archetypal play with the Raiders past year, Littleton is looking guardant to that gameday experience.
He arrived successful Las Vegas from the Los Angeles Rams, wherever helium grew from an unknown, undrafted escaped cause successful 2016 to a peculiar teams ace to a Pro Bowl linebacker to 1 of the hottest tickets successful escaped agency. But helium struggled truthful severely portion transitioning to Paul Guenther’s Raiders defence that helium said helium played overmuch of the play similar “a chickenhearted with my caput chopped off.”
Littleton’s numbers fell disconnected and truthful to did his interaction arsenic 1 of the NFL’s champion pass-cover linebackers. Littleton didn’t shy distant from his struggles erstwhile helium met with the media astatine the extremity of past season.
“I’ve ever said that I wanted to support myself and support my play arsenic a top-five linebacker. And the 2 erstwhile seasons I had,” Littleton said, “I didn’t travel obscurity adjacent to it this year.”
He vowed to marque this twelvemonth crook retired differently. He volition person to hold until the regular play starts, but a fewer factors are moving successful his favor:
— Last season, Littleton finished connected a two-game precocious enactment aft the Raiders fired Guenther, whose immense playbook was simplified by interim antiaircraft coordinator Rod Marinelli and allowed Littleton to play much instinctively.
— And, by the Raiders hiring caller antiaircraft coordinator Gus Bradley, coupled with a instrumentality to a afloat offseason of OTA’s and minicamp, should it appears Littleton has a strategy much adaptive to his benignant of play.
“You tin telephone it a caller start,” Littleton said. “Definitely person to larn a caller defense. And conscionable progressions done this defence has been truly nice.
”Just seeing myself turn and continually getting amended each day.”
Littleton typically plays successful the 220-pound range, which leaves him a small spot connected the airy side. He besides has a inclination to suffer value during the season. His size does assistance his walk coverage, allowing him to tally with moving backs, choky ends and immoderate wide receivers.
“We looked astatine him successful escaped bureau a mates years agone (at Seattle) and his seven-on-seven, defending the pass, his accomplishment set, precise good,” Bradley said. “I truly similar his question skills.”
But the deficiency of girth tin beryllium problematic against the run. Littleton tin pursuit down shot carriers sideline to sideline, but helium struggles matching up physically astatine the constituent of attack. In Bradley’s scheme, Littleton volition beryllium asked to supply tally enactment astatine the enactment of scrimmage.
“So present it’s just, alright, present you’re a B-gap linebacker, oregon an A spread linebacker successful our scheme, however are you versus the run?” Bradley said. “So, that’s the biggest situation for him, but he’s got magnitude and successful our system.
Some guys that are a small spot lighter. Back successful the time similar a Telvin Smith who was a small spot lighter but fast. Those guys person a spot successful our system.”