How strong will a fully healthy Maxx Crosby look for

todayJuly 7, 2024 11

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    Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff WriterJul 3, 2024, 06:00 AM ET


      Paul Gutierrez joined NFL Nation in 2013 and serves as its Las Vegas Raiders reporter. He has a multi-platform role – writing on, television appearances on NFL Live and SportsCenter, and podcast and radio appearances. Before coming to ESPN, Gutierrez spent three years at CSN Bay Area as a multi-platform reporter, covering the Raiders and Oakland Athletics as well as anchoring the SportsNet Central cable news show. Gutierrez votes for the Baseball Hall of Fame and is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America and currently serves as the PFWA’s Las Vegas chapter president. He is also a member of the California Chicano News Media Association and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Gutierrez has authored three books: Tommy Davis’ Tales from the Dodgers Dugout, 100 Things Raiders Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die and If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Raiders Sideline, Locker Room and Press Box with Lincoln Kennedy. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PGutierrezESPN

HENDERSON, Nev. — Maxx Crosby had just concluded the onfield portion of the “Sack Summit” he co-hosted with Von Miller and Cameron Jordan at UNLV on Saturday when the Las Vegas Raiders‘ edge rusher was approached by a Rebel defensive lineman.

Fisher Camac, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound rising redshirt sophomore with one career college sack on his resume, tugged at Crosby’s figurative cape. With about the same lengthy physical build, Camac hoped for some specific thoughts on getting to the quarterback.

“Dictate the pitch count,” Crosby advised. “If [the offensive lineman] doesn’t show his hands, run through him.”

Satisfied, Camac asked for a picture with Crosby, a three-time Pro Bowler who had already spent the day talking about spin moves, angles, chips, stunts, ice picks, power versus speed and using a basketball crossover step to beat opposing offensive linemen for the 60-plus NFL lineman in attendance for the seminar in triple-digit heat.

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Just another day in the nonstop offseason for Crosby, whose ceaseless chase for excellence hit a speed bump last season as he played through injuries to his left knee and a thumb that both required surgeries in January.

“It’s been a hell of an offseason,” Crosby said. “So, it’s been a hell of a ride back.”

Though you would not have guessed he was suffering from much given his availability and production last fall.

Consider: Crosby, despite initially injuring the knee in Week 2, still played in 95% of Las Vegas’ defensive snaps (1,081) while racking up a career-high 14.5 sacks and being named second-team All-Pro as well as to his third straight Pro Bowl.

Imagine, then, how much more menacing a fully healthy Crosby could be going forward.

“I had to get two major surgeries, and it’s been different, but at the end of the day, there’s not one street to get to where you want to go, there’s multiple,” Crosby said. “And for me, I trust the people around me, trust my team, everyone involved, to get me back to 100 percent. And then also taking that next step.”

Crosby said he started his personal offseason program on Jan. 22.

“You talk about fight camps [lasting] maybe three months, four months; I do it 365 [days],” he said. “So that’s why I feel like, at the end of the day, my consistency is what separates myself and it will only keep getting me better because I don’t leave any stone unturned.”

Such as picking up assorted tips of the trade while leaving behind some snippets at the “Sack Summit,” originally created by Miller but now being bequeathed upon Crosby.

Yeah, that was Crosby using Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp as a faux tackling dummy to wrap himself around his chop to pull the guard away from him so he could “feel like water” in adapting his wrap-around rush as “poetry in motion.”

The Buffalo Bills‘ Miller was talking about staying smooth in his approach, the New Orleans Saints‘ Jordan advising utilizing a pseudo-headbutt to get the attention of offensive lineman and the New England PatriotsMatthew Judon calling himself a “thief” because he “steals” everyone’s moves.

But on the ascent was Crosby.

“Maxx had been coming here for years, and to see his growth and his development into one of the best pass rushers in the league, he loved my baby like it was his,” Miller said. “So, I just thought it was natural just to bring Maxx in … to kind of give [him] a piece of it, just to ensure the life of the [Sack] Summit.

“I don’t know how many years I got left, but Maxx, he’s going to play another 10. I want to ensure the life of the [Summit] and continue to help guys.”

So impressed have the Raiders been with Crosby since drafting him in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of Eastern Michigan, the team awarded him a $6 million raise this offseason, without adding any years to his contract.

This after signing him to a four-year extension with $95 million in new money and more than $53 million guaranteed in March of 2022.

“When you talk about Maxx Crosby, you’re talking about the best defensive player in the league, probably in the history, that I’ve ever seen,” said a self-admitted hyperbolic Rob Ryan, the Raiders’ senior defensive assistant. “Now, I’ve only been around it 30 years, but I mean, he’s that good.”

As Raiders coach Antonio Pierce said, he is not going to ask Crosby to slow down against teammates in practice when the pads come on in training camp, particularly not against new starting right tackle Thayer Munford.

“Hopefully that speeds up the development and growth with [Munford],” Pierce said, “and makes us a better team.”

40483051Maxx Crosby had a career-high 14.5 sacks and 90 tackles in 2023. Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire

Crosby is one of the few Raiders still on the roster who played with the team in Oakland. The Raiders are 39-44 since 2019 with one playoff appearance under four coaches — Jon Gruden, Rich Bisaccia, Josh McDaniels and Pierce.

And it goes back to Crosby’s rookie season, when he suffered a broken hand in an exhibition game, that his penchant for not skipping any meaningful time took hold as he rarely even missed a practice.

Last season, though…

“I was damn near limited every single day, the whole season in practice, and things like that,” he said. “And I had to learn to make an adjustment because I can’t just go out there and run my knee into the ground. I had to be ready for Sunday.

“It made me take a step back so I could take three steps forward, and I feel like that’s what this offseason was all about — my one goal is to be the best in the world, pound for pound, and I talk about it, I’m about it, I live it every single day and whatever street I’ve got to travel to get to where I want to go, I’m going to do that. So I’m exhausting every single resource I possibly have to have the best season of my career.”

Including taking the time to dole out some pithy pass-rushing advice to an eager and just-as-green college pass rusher from the local university.

Written by: Ag Entertainment

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