Newcomer LB Perry Riley Jr. Shines in Raiders Debut
With second-year inside linebacker Ben Heeney (ankle) on the Injured Reserve and veteran LB Malcolm Smith ruled out of Sunday’s contest with a quad injury, the Raiders added former Washington Redskins linebacker Perry Riley Jr. to the active roster.
Riley, a fourth-round draft pick out of LSU in 2010, recorded over 100 tackles in two of his six seasons (and 93 in another) with Washington before a combination of injuries and the rise of current Redskins linebacker Mason Foster pushed him off the roster.
In his Raiders debut, Riley led the Silver and Black with seven combined tackles (six solo) and stripped Chargers tight end Antonio Gates in the red zone, leading to an early turnover for Oakland.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio praised Riley for his ability to make an immediate impact for Oakland’s defense.
"“It speaks to his professionalism, really attacking the preparation, trying to learn the language,” Del Rio said. “That’s the biggest thing. Basically anything you’re doing, he’s probably done in his career over six years. We found some of the common ground and tried to put it on our terms so he could learn it as quick as possible. He worked hard at it. He played well. Did a nice job for us. Really stepping in and playing well on short notice like that, it was big for us.”"
Whether it was preparation or pure effort, Riley added a fire to the inside linebacker position that the Raiders have been lacking for several weeks, making high-motor plays both in coverage and against the run.
Riley earned the team’s highest defensive grade (88.7), per PFF.com.
Though Smith is expected to come off the injury list in Week 6, look for Oakland to continue to work in Riley in rotation with Smith and James as the season progresses.