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FSM Preview: 2023 Las Vegas Raiders Position Breakdown: Linebackers

Franchise Sports Media

Robert Spillane has the opportunity of a lifetime.

Robert Spillane steps into a full-time starting position for the first time in his career.

Josh McDaniels believes in position by committee.

Las Vegas Raiders | Franchise Sports Media | Robert Spilane
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The often-injured Denzel Perryman is being replaced by a player who played in 16 games last season and 14 games the season before, respectively. Although Robert Spillane played in most of those games, he was rarely the starter. That is set to change in Las Vegas, as the five-year veteran has a chance to put his experience to use as the leader of the Raiders defense.

“They told me I was going to come in and be given the opportunity to be a green dot and to play and to really be a leader of this team. I hope to come in and earn respect from not only my coaches but from my teammates as well.”

The Raiders completely retooled their linebacker position over the offseason. The Silver and Black decided to let Perryman walk and brought in Spillane, a veteran linebacker from Western Michigan University, who spent the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The move is consistent with most of the other moves the Raiders‘ front office have made this offseason.

Those moves usually centered around value, experience, and availability. Spillane checks all of those boxes.

” I mean, it comes down to leadership, showing guys what we want to be as a defense. And not just by talking in the meetings, going out there and practicing every day, showing that effort, showing the attack on the football. I’m going to keep reiterating that because that’s the main point of emphasis for me, and I want the guys around me ball hungry. I mean, good players make 100 tackles. They might get a contract the next year, and they might not. You are a linebacker with five-plus turnovers, and you’re going to be in this league a long time. So, I’m telling the guys to find ways to get that ball out and make plays. Defense is coming together in terms of communication, effort, discipline, the things that we want to really focus and improve on in the offseason. So, just from day one to day four, our effort to the ball, our effort attacking the ball at the finish has been already — we’re raising that standard. So, we’ve just got to keep holding each other accountable, and good things will happen.”

Spillane continued.

“I love a blue-collar, gritty defense that’s stingy, always attacking the ball, making plays, making turnovers. At the end of the day, there’s not much difference between a two and a four-yard gain, but when you make those splash turnover plays, those really affect the outcome of games. So, ‘How can I get my hand on a ball? How can I punch this ball out? How can I get in the passing window and maybe make that quarterback throw a few feet higher in the air so I give my secondary time to make a play on the ball?’ Good defenses get PBUs, make tackles, great defenses turn the ball over and score a touchdown, so that’s what we’re looking to do.”

Las Vegas Raiders are showing trust in the health and heart of their linebackers.

Las Vegas looks to get the most out of homegrown talent in Luke Masterson and Divine Deablo.

The Raiders added depth across the board.

Las Vegas Raiders | Franchise Sports Media | Luke Masterson
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Yeah, it’s hard to do that during the season. You’re just week to week trying to win, get the game plan, and get ready for the game. But after the season, you’re able to take a step back a little bit and reflect, and that was really where I could see where I needed to grow. Take a step back and look at yourself honestly and see what you did good, what you did badly, and how you can grow going into this year.

Masterson continued.

“Honestly, I’m trying to approach it the same way. I’m trying to approach it like I’m still fighting for a job because I am. Everyone’s fighting for a job out here. I come every day with that mindset, and I’m trying to treat it the same way.” 

Masterson says last season was an NFL crash course of sorts as he had some success and some failures on the field. He believes reflecting on the rigors of his first NFL season, along with help from veterans like Spillane, will help this upcoming season be an even better one.

“A lot of ups and downs. I would say there were some good games, some bad games. I just tried to learn every week from my mistakes and try and get better every play. Definitely trying to take that next step this year and learn from my mistakes last year. I have some core things that I’m trying to work on and get better at.”

Masterson continued.

“Robert [Spillane] is awesome. He comes every day with a championship mindset. He attacks every drill like it’s his last drill ever. Film sessions are awesome with him. He speaks up if you got a question. He’s a great dude. I love his energy, and it’s definitely infectious for the linebacker room, and it’s exciting having him around.”

Las Vegas Raiders | Franchise Sports Media | Divine Deablo
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Divine Deablo has returned to the Raiders’ defense after missing nine games last season with an injury. When Deablo went down last season, he was leading the team in tackles. He says he’s switched up his offseason routine to help him arrive at camp better prepared for this season.

“My rookie offseason, I took a little while because I wanted to take a break from football. This past offseason, I went to work as soon as possible. Put on more weight and studied more film, and I feel like it’s helped me a lot. I think I’m really finally getting to the scheme for a second year. My first year was a different scheme. The second year was a different scheme. So, me already knowing the playbook and just trying to expand from that, it helped out a lot.”

Now entering his third season in the league and the second year under this coaching staff, linebackers coach Antonio Pierce is optimistic about Deablo taking the next step this season, as the linebacker has looked much more comfortable on the field so far this season.

“He understands his game is speed, and he’s gotten better at playing linebacker and coming downhill.”

Pierce continued.

“What I’ve seen is a guy who’s more comfortable playing the linebacker position. He doesn’t look like a safety playing linebacker. He now looks like a linebacker. And he’ll continue to grow. I think each and every year in the league, he’ll get better. He’ll see the game as a linebacker, and that will just make him a better football player.”

The Las Vegas Raiders are depending on everyone being healthy.

– Zeke Trezevant – Franchise Sports Media

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