Originally published by RaidersNewswire.com
The Las Vegas Raiders were able to fill a much-needed void in the linebacker corps with the additions of Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski in free agency this offseason.
The Raiders’ defense struggled mightily without a primary shot-caller last season. The onus will now fall on Littleton and Kwiatkoski to ensure that defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s scheme is being communicated effectively on the field.
Fortunately, both players have experience taking on such an integral role with their previous teams. However, it appears Kwiatkoski will be the one tasked with relaying Guenther’s calls.
Kwiatkoski is confident that his time wearing the green dot with the Chicago Bears should pay huge dividends, via Kyle Martin of the team’s official website:
“I did it a bunch in Chicago,” Kwiatkoski said Monday when asked about being assigned the green dot. “Off and on in the time that I was there, so it’s something that I’m used to, but just for here I’m working on communicating with Cory [Littleton] — he’s right next to me, helping him with calls. Just overall communication with the defense, we lost a lot of time in spring and that’s a big part of what I’m trying to do on the field right now.”
Kwiatkoski added that he is looking forward to forming a tandem alongside Littleton after watching his emergence with the Los Angeles Rams:
“I’m excited to play with him,” he said. “I got the chance to play against him last year [in Chicago], seeing him now, he’s athletic and an all-around linebacker. He does a lot of things well and I’m excited to play next to him.”
Although it is encouraging to see that Kwiatkoski is optimistic about his new, full-time role, the situation will be something for Gruden and Mayock to monitor throughout the course of the 2020 NFL season. His comments indicate that he has no problem sharing the load with Littleton on the inside.
The restrictions placed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have offered up its own set of challenges for players trying to get properly acquainted with their new teams this offseason. This could result in some early growing pains for essentially every team around the league.
This could be the case for Kwiatkoski as he makes the transition from Chicago’s 3-4 scheme. It is imperative that he and Littleton continue to build their rapport if the Raiders hope to usher in a new era at Allegiant Stadium in style with this revamped defense.
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