The Oakland Raiders returned to the practice for their three-day mandatory minicamp which also marked the return of a key piece of their defense.
Second-year defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. returned the the field Tuesday for his first full practice since injuring his neck against the Green Bay Packers in week 15 of last year. Up until today, the Raiders remained quite mum on the injury and any possible return by the Florida State alum.
“Just a sprain in my neck," Edwards said after Tuesday's practice. "After that, it was just doing everything that was caused that I needed to do to get it right.”
It's been a long time coming for Edwards, who has been working towards a return since the week the injury happened.
“Looks like he’s been working hard," head coach Jack Del Rio said of his young defensive lineman. "We know that he’s been working hard with [head strength and conditioning coach] Joe [Gomes] and doing the things he can do and he was able to join us today. It’s good to have him back.”
Edwards became a key contributor to the Raiders defense after veteran Justin Tuck went down with injury. In all, the defensive lineman finished with 42 tackles, two forced fumbles and three sacks in 14 games played. Now, his head coach is excited to see how he can progress in his second year in the league.
“The sky’s the limit," Del Rio said. "He’s a really talented player. He has a lot of passion. He’s super athletic. For such a big man, big powerful guy, he’s very athletic. The sky’s the limit. I know he’s excited to be back.”
But for now, the big defensive lineman is just happy to be back on the field and knows he still has a lot of work to do before he can take his game to the next level.
“Definitely, just to get back into the feel," Edwards said. "The different blocks and schemes and things like that is always engraved. It’s about to be offseason for us. The training that I do from now until training camp is going to really determine my season.”