The Oakland Raiders are in serious need of a cornerback to step up and help the position. With DJ Hayden headed to the physically unable to perform list, keeping him out the first six weeks of the season and Chimdi Chekwa battling a knee injury, the Raiders are in a pinch. Enter Neiko Thorpe.
Thorpe was signed by the Raiders in January as a future/reserve player that did not get much attention. He started to impress the coaching staff in training camp, but a leg injury halted his progress. Now, Thorpe is back in action and potentially a huge part of the Raiders' cornerback rotation. He played significant time in the team's third preseason game against the Green Bay Packers and look good. He made two tackles and defended a pass. He was blanketing receivers in coverage and showed solid ball skills.
“I’m impressed with his mental focus,” Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said of Thorpe. “He does one play at a time. Some of the things that you guys have heard from me over the past few years up here, this young man, he’s focused. He wants it.”
Thorpe has taken a strange journey to Oakland. He started his NFL career as an undrafted free agent out of Auburn and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs where he appeared in nine games. After being waived, Thorpe went to play in the CFL for the Toronto Argonauts before he was found by the Raiders.
Now, Thorpe will use the fourth preseason game Thursday against the Seattle Seahawks as a springboard to not only make the Raiders roster, but be an integral part of their cornerback position. Head coach Dennis Allen has said he hopes Thorpe or one of the other younger players can solidify a cornerback spot on the outside along with Tarell Brown, so the team can use Carlos Rogers inside at the nickel spot. Thorpe is on his way after a strong performance against Green Bay but has to show consistency and progress going forward this week.
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