For the first time in a very long time, the Las Vegas Raiders played a Los Angeles Chargers team that didn’t have Philip Rivers on the roster earlier in the season. While they didn’t play him in a Chargers uniform, they’re still going to get a chance to go against him this season. The Raiders welcome the Indianapolis Colts to Allegiant Stadium this Sunday and they’ll be able to see their old nemesis.
Last season, the team dominated Rivers. In two games against the Raiders, the quarterback threw two touchdowns to three interceptions and was sacked six times. He lost both games. Starting defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins has played a lot of games against Rivers and he’s looking forward to seeing him again.
“I love playing against Phil,” Hankins said, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “I will talk some smack to him. He knows our scheme and our blitzes, so we have to do a good job of disguising them. If you don’t, he will tell you about it. …
“You can tell he 100 percent hates the Raiders. And I been telling the guys all week, nothing’s changed because he is on the Colts. We are going to whup on him just like we did in the two games last year.”
The Colts of this season are a very different animal than the Chargers of last year. That said, the Raiders know Rivers like the back of their hand. With the playoffs nearing, a big defensive game from the silver and black would be massive.
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Hankins Excited to Play Former Team
Hankins has double the motivation to play well this week as he used to be a Colt. Back in 2017, he started 15 games for the team. That next season, he played with the Raiders. Despite only playing one season with the team, Hankins wants a piece of the Colts.
“There’s always a little bitterness when you go against your old team, so I am definitely going to take it to them,” Hankins said. “It’s a big game for us, and handling our business will put us in good position.
“If we shut down the run, our pass rush will really get a chance to shine.”
Hankins is only one of two healthy defensive tackles on the active roster right now. The Raiders are going to need a big game from him. He’s been one of the team’s best run stuffers and is a leader on the defensive line. If he could create some pressure on Rivers, that would really help the team pull off a win.
Jon Gruden Praises Rivers
Rivers is almost 40 and it’s clear he’s not as efficient as he once was. He’s definitely playing better this year than he was last year and should end with solid numbers but probably can’t take over a game like he could in the past. However, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden still likes Rivers’ leadership ability.
“I just don’t see any change in Philip Rivers. At all. He’ll finish ya. This guy will go 60 minutes,” Gruden said Wednesday. “And he’s so good at rallying young players, which is hard to do when you’re close to 40.”
If this is Rivers’ last season, he would probably love to seriously hurt the Raiders’ chances of getting to the playoffs.
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