Three Raiders who could step up for Justin Tuck right now
Justin Tuck can’t be replaced as a leader in the Raiders’ locker room.
But the veteran defensive end mentored several young players — and it’s time to see if one of them can step up now that he’s out with a pectoral tear.
Here are three candidates the Raiders could call on immediately this weekend:
1. LB Aldon Smith: The troubled former 49er is undoubtedly explosive with his hand in the dirt. But moving Smith from linebacker opposite Khalil Mack to Tuck’s hand-in-the-ground role could discombobulate a pass rush that already lacks cohesion.
2. DL Mario Edwards Jr: Tuck took Edwards Jr. under his wing this summer for a reason; he saw the promise the second-round rookie had. The former Seminole is needed now — not just for Tuck’s pass-rushing prowess, but for his run-stopping ability too.
3. DE Denico Autry: Autry missed Oakland’s Week 5 loss to the Broncos, but he’s back just in time to help out. He has the size (6-foot-5, 270 pounds) and positional versatility to become a poor man’s Tuck.