Las Vegas Raiders nickelback Lamarcus Joyner wants to bring physicality this season as he feels much more comfortable in the team's defensive scheme after having one year with the behind him. Joyner, the second round pick of the 2014 NFL draft, spent his first several seasons in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams, before he joined the Raiders last offseason.
But being on a new team, having to learn a new defensive scheme wasn't easy for Joyner as he finished the season with three passes defended and 49 tackles combined. "I feel a lot more comfortable, almost feel like my second year again in the league," Joyner told reporters on Friday, per the team's website.
"I went to a complicated system with the Rams and Greg Williams, it takes a lot to learn with those kinds of complicated systems, [like Guenther's]. But I feel much more comfortable and that's going to help me with my confidence, and executing and making more plays."
Raiders coach Jon Gruden wants Joyner to 'show up this season'
Joyner now has a much better understanding of the defensive scheme implemented by Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and coach Gruden wants the 28-year-old to be a strong force on the defensive side for the team.
"We got to be ready to tackle," Gruden said pointedly. "We've been under quarantine, we're wearing masks, we haven't been able to tackle. We haven't put a man on the ground yet, we have to tackle better.
"It starts with Joyner, the nickel corner should be first or second on your team in tackles every year — that's how it is in Guenther's defense. So, we need him to really get involved in every single snap in our sub defense and be one of our top tacklers.
That's the number one criteria we're looking for." Joyner's career-high number for tackles came in 2018, when he was an integral part of the Rams defense that made the Super Bowl. Joyner now wants to have a similar success with the Raiders this year.
"Definitely knowing your run fits, knowing what you should be keying and just doing your job," Joyner said when asked about how to improve tackling. "The nickelback position is almost like the general at the second level — not the third level with the safeties — but with the linebackers and understanding where the [defensive] end and the [defensive] tackle is fitting.
So, it's almost like you're a cover guy and a linebacker, so you definitely have to be technique and fundamentally sound to rack up those tackles and execute."