New Raiders DE Ealy holds a Su­per Bowl record

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Matt Sch­nei­d­man

ALAMEDA — Only one player in NFL his­tory has recorded an in­ter­cep­tion and mul­ti­ple sacks in the same Su­per Bowl.

That player had been un­em­ployed since Sept. 1 un­til the Oak­land Raiders signed him on Mon­day.

Kony Ealy, who tal­lied an in­ter­cep­tion, forced fum­ble and three sacks for the Pan­thers in a 24-10 Su­per Bowl loss to Pey­ton Man­ning’s Den­ver Bron­cos in 2016, is the lat­est to hop on the Raiders’ de­fen­sive end turn­style.

He trot­ted off the prac­tice field with as­sis­tant de­fen­sive line coach Marco Cole­man al­most 10 min­utes af­ter every other de­fender on Thurs­day, play­ing catch-up with his own short week of prepa­ra­tion but ea­ger to give the Raiders a much-needed boost come Sun­day against the Charg­ers.

Since his his­toric per­for­mance less than three years ago, Ealy has spent time with the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, New York Jets, Dal­las Cowboys and now Raiders. He hasn’t been able to repli­cate that Su­per Bowl night, or any­thing close to it, in any of his past three stops. But the Raiders (1-7) hope their new­est de­fen­sive end can give them some­thing, any­thing, to bol­ster an ane­mic pass rush in the sec­ond half this sea­son.

“He’s a guy that’s played in the Su­per Bowl, played with a cou­ple dif­fer­ent teams. He’s a phys­i­cal guy, big guy, as a de­fen­sive end for us, that has some ex­pe­ri­ence,” Raiders de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Paul Guen­ther said Thurs­day of

the 6-foot-4, 275-pound Ealy. “We’re just try­ing to find the right mix of guys. We’re churn­ing the ros­ter a lit­tle bit just to find some guys that fit us, not only for now but for the fu­ture.”

Ealy is only 26, young for this team, and a 2014 sec­ond-round pick out of Mis­souri. He’s amassed 18 sacks, 101 com­bined tack­les, 15 passes de­fensed, three in­ter­cep­tions and six forced fum­bles in his ca­reer. He’s only started 20 of 67 ca­reer games, but the flashes of com­pe­tence at de­fen­sive end the Raiders have lacked this sea­son have sur­faced in Ealy’s early years.

“You know Kony Ealy has had pro­duc­tion in some big mo­ments,” Raiders coach Jon Gru­den said, in ad­di­tion to not­ing Ealy’s arse­nal also in­cludes cov­er­ing tight ends on first and third down.

The Pan­thers traded Ealy and a third-round pick to the Pa­tri­ots for a sec­ond-rounder in March 2017, but the Pa­tri­ots waived him be­fore he played in a game. The Jets claimed him off waivers, and Ealy played 15 games for them with nine passes de­fensed but only one sack and 14 com­bined tack­les in 2017. He signed with the Cowboys as a free agent last off­sea­son, but was re­leased on ros­ter cut­down day this Septem­ber.

So what will it take for Ealy to re­cap­ture that fleet­ing dom­i­nance of his early years in the league? Be­cause the Raiders cer­tainly wouldn’t mind it resur­fac­ing here in Oak­land.

“Just set­tle down, re­ally fo­cus in on my game. I got great coaches, a great op­por­tu­nity to do that. As long as I get the plays down, I’ll get out there and get on the field and make plays for the team,” Ealy said Thurs­day.

JEFF SINER/TRI­BUNE NEWS SER­VICE

Carolina Pan­thers de­fen­sive end Kony Ealy, left, cra­dles the ball af­ter in­ter­cept­ing a pass against the Ari­zona Car­di­nals on Oc­to­ber 30, 2016 in Char­lotte, N.C. Ealy joined the Raiders this week.

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