Derrick Johnson didn’t agree to terms with the Raiders until May 5, but already, the middle linebacker has taken charge.
“This Raider team really respects me,” Johnson said, via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. “Once I say something, they kind of get it. My style isn’t too aggressive. It’s not that guy that’s in their face. I’m a big guy of lead by example, of course. But at times you have to speak up. You have to let them know what you’re thinking. You have to demand some things at times. Everybody is different, with different personalities. You can’t talk to everybody the same. I have to talk to [second-year pro] Nick Morrow different than [veteran] Bruce Irvin. It’s just a different type of deal.”
Perry Riley Jr. started 11 games at middle linebacker in 2016 and Navorro Bowman 10 there last year. Neither Riley nor Bowman started the season with the Raiders, with Riley signing October 4, 2016, and Bowman on October 17, 2017.
So Johnson’s late arrival wasn’t so late.
Johnson, 35, has worked overtime to learn new terminology after spending the past 13 seasons in Kansas City.
“He has picked it up real quick,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “He’s able to get us in and out of defenses. When you’re at that point, the guy has been here for what, two to three weeks now, and he’s able to really understand what we’re trying to get to. To have a veteran piece that can kind of control the show out there is a big, important part for me.”