The Oakland Raiders added another inside linebacker this week with veteran Malcolm Smith nursing a quad injury all week and remaining limited on Friday. In the end, Smith dressed and was available for the Raiders' game against the Chargers on Sunday, but only in an emergency situation.
"Malcolm [Smith] was dressed and available in an emergency, but we really didn't want to play him if we didn't have to. That was the plan coming in," head coach Jack Del Rio said after the game.
Instead, Del Rio turned to newly-signed linebacker Perry Riley, Jr. who got the start in Smith's place.
Riley joined the Raiders on Tuesday after being released by the Washington Redskins back in August after breaking his foot last year which resulted in two surgeries.
Riley stepped in and made a big impact in Sunday's game, and it started early. After a costly interception by Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, Chargers tight end Antonio Gates hauled in a first-down reception but Riley got in there and punched the ball out to force the fumble and give Carr another possession.
With the defense struggling to slow down Rivers and the Chargers offense, every turnover proved to be critical. Riley took part in another fumble later in the game when him and defensive tackle Stacy McGee were in on another forced fumble, this time on running back Melvin Gordon.
Riley showed he has a knack for being around the ball-carrier, leading the team in tackles with seven on his first day on the job. Del Rio liked what he saw from his new linebacker.
"He did a good job," Del Rio said after the game. "I think he led our team in tackles. Veteran guy, he's got fire. You can just see the fire in him and his desire to soak up everything he could this week and be prepared to help us today."