The Oakland Raiders made their presence felt throughout the 2016 NFL season, with four Pro Bowl selections and possibly five if Derek Carr were not injured. Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, Khalil Mack and Reggie Nelson all put together strong campaigns, returning hungrier than ever.
Nelson turned into a pleasant surprise during his first season with the Raiders, as a part of an overall lackluster secondary. However, Nelson was a steady ball hawk on the field, accumulating 50 tackles (15 solo), 12 passes defended, two fumble recovers and five interceptions.
The coaching staff all took the podium on Tuesday, with defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and assistant head coach John Pagano addressing Nelson’s role. Norton Jr. stated that Nelson sets an example for the younger defensive backs, via Raiders.com:
“Nelson’s a ball hawk. He’s always around the ball. He knows how to play this game. He’s been playing for a long time. Our team is so young, it’s important for a guy like that to continue set an example for a lot of the younger players.”
Nelson also reiterated Norton Jr.’s sentiments, stating that he always believes there is something a player can get better at. In fact, he is constantly telling the younger players, like Obi Melinfonwu and Karl Joseph, that just because you get drafted to the NFL doesn’t mean you made it.
Coach Pagano also spoke to Nelson’s ability to set an example on the field, with professionalism and a desire to get better. The two-time Pro Bowler was able to joke at his constant efforts to get better, stating that the Raiders have him on his heels, via Vic Tafur of the Bay Area News Group:
Great line from #Raiders safety Reggie Nelson: “I got homework every night. They keep drafting safeties.”
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) June 6, 2017
Nelson seems a lot more comfortable heading into his second training camp with the Raiders, with familiarity around the players and coaching staff. The 33-year-old has captured the starting free safety position, to pair along with a resurgent 2017 Raiders defense.