Raiders DT Darius Philon continues to be a bright spot on the defensive line

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Heading into the 2021 season, one of the biggest areas of concern for the Raiders was at defensive tackle. The team released Maurice Hurst earlier this offseason and they were hoping that one of Gerald McCoy or Solomon Thomas would win the starting three-technique job.

However, McCoy was injured after just a few snaps and has since been placed on the season-ending injured reserve list. Thomas has played some defensive tackle, but he has only been on the field for 114 snaps through four games with 56 of those snaps coming at defensive end.

But the player who has really stepped up is Darius Philon, who was signed during the offseason from the Chargers. Philon did not play in an NFL game during the 2019 or 2020 season, but now he is a key contributor for the Raiders.

Philon had a massive Week 4 game against his former team, totaling two sacks, two quarterback hits, two tackles for a loss and three tackles. Despite being severely undersized for the position (6’1, 286 pounds), he’s been their most productive defensive tackle.

Due to his lack of size, Philon isn’t quite as stout as you would hope in the run game. However, he is incredibly productive as a pass rusher. He’s totaled nine pressures on 107 snaps this season, which is the fourth-most on the team.

Philon probably will never be a full-time starter or player for the Raiders, but he is a fantastic depth piece to have on the defensive line. For a team that was concerned about their pass rush going into the year, Philon has been quite a nice surprise.

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