Marcus Peters joins his childhood favorite team, the Raiders, with eyes on reshaping its defense in his image

Equipment day doesn’t typically mean much to NFL veterans, but the Raiders’ issuance of gear this summer at their Henderson headquarters stood out as a milestone for one of their most experienced and decorated players.

Ninth-year NFL veteran cornerback Marcus Peters felt his football career come full circle when he first received his silver and black attire, and especially his new No. 24 jersey. The 31-year-old Peters grew up seven miles south of the Oakland Coliseum and was a die-hard Raiders fan from as early as he can remember.

His favorite player as a child was perhaps the Raiders’ most famous No. 24, Hall of Fame defensive back Charles Woodson. More recently, his “cousin” Marshawn Lynch—they’re not related by blood but have been close for most of Peters’ life—wore the number.

Peters thought “a lot” about whether he should follow Woodson and Lynch by wearing the number upon signing with the Raiders a day before training camp began this summer, and ultimately decided it felt right.

“Being able to be in the backyard of C-Wood and watching him do what he was doing as a rookie and then keep going on, and then he used to be out in the Oakland streets,” Peters explained. “My pops and them just tell us stories about them chilling and hanging out, and that’s big. It’s just a blessing to be able to rock a number that he wore.”

Peters experienced a culture shock to start his NFL career after he was drafted by the Raiders’ archrival Kansas City Chiefs, but he emulated Woodson in enemy territory anyway. Like Woodson in 1998, Peters won the 2015 Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

He led the league with eight interceptions that season and has remained one of the NFL’s top takeaway merchants since. Only one currently rostered cornerback in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Patrick Peterson, has more career interceptions (34) than Peters (32)—and Peterson has played in 80 more games.

Peters’ numbers might also be slightly higher had he not battled injuries in recent years while with the Baltimore Ravens, including missing all of the 2021 season with a torn ACL. But he still has double the number of lifetime interceptions as everyone else on the Raiders’ roster combined.

Las Vegas has made creating more turnovers a point of emphasis this season after notching a league-low 13 last season, and there’s no one better than Peters to instill that mentality.

“You’ve got to be a smart player to be able to be on defense and catch the ball as many times as he has in his career,” receiver Davante Adams said. “It doesn’t just happen.”

As a fellow Bay Area native, Adams has known and rooted for Peters “for a long time.” When it was Adams’ turn to join his childhood team a year ago, he admitted it was strange to adjust to the Raiders being in Las Vegas instead of Oakland.

Peters, who wore an Oakland A’s hat to his contract signing and sole training-camp news conference, says he’s Oakland through and through, but doesn’t mind the city’s professional-sports migration to Las Vegas.

“It’s Oakland really, just hop on a quick flight back to the town,” Peters said of Las Vegas. “But Vegas is cool, man. I like it. … You can get into all the other stuff in Vegas, but if you don’t go to the Strip, it’s normal.”

Peters competing in home games with the backdrop of the world’s most famous casinos is fitting in another way—his playing style is heavy on gambling. The same mentality that has resulted in so many interceptions has also created a lot of big gains going the other way as Peters attacks the ball—he also has 11 career forced fumbles and 10 fumble recoveries—and takes risks in search of game-changing plays.

“I play offense on defense and defense on offense,” Peters said. “It’s the same thing, they go hand in hand. I want to get the ball, and when the ball is in the air, you’ve got to have a will and want to go get it. And I want to go get it more than everybody else.”

Peters had a career-low one interception with the Ravens last year, and advanced metrics also graded the season as one of his worst as a professional.

But the two-time, first-team All Pro takes umbrage at any suggestion that he has slowed down. He feels like he not only has a lot of play left to give on the field but also knowledge to pass down to the younger generation.

The rest of the Raiders’ defensive backs call him “OG.” Rookie cornerback Jakorian Bennett, who’s projected to start on the side opposite Peters, admitted to being “starstruck” at the beginning of training camp after having watched the veteran since high school. Starting slot cornerback Nate Hobbs said merely being around Peters has raised his own game.

“His mind works on another level with stuff, and he trusts his instincts and he sees it before the quarterback is even going to throw,” Hobbs said of Peters. “So I try to pick his brain apart. That’s not normal at all; some of the stuff he does is superhuman. At the cornerback position … if you get 30 picks, you’re superhuman.”

While Peters might be best known for his takeaway prowess, a tendency for emotional blowups is also part of his reputation. Last season, he got into a much-publicized shouting match with Ravens coach John Harbaugh on the sidelines at the end of a 23-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

He was dismissed from the University of Washington’s football team before his senior season after repeated clashes with the coaching staff, though he still wound up going in the first round of the NFL Draft. His most famous moment involving the Raiders before this year came in his second season with the Chiefs, when he put a late hit on then-quarterback Derek Carr to start a small melee near the sidelines in Oakland.

Lynch, then a Raider, famously rushed to Peters’ defense over his teammates and was ejected from the game. No such dustups involving Peters took place during training camp.

He has shared words with Adams on a couple occasions, as the two are often matched up against one another during drills and scrimmages. Adams burned Peters for touchdowns a few times early, but the cornerback settled down and more than held his own as the summer progressed—even snagging a few interceptions, naturally.

Adams likely took the chirping and trash-talking in stride, considering Peters has chalked up controversial actions throughout his career as an “Oakland thing,” which the receiver would understand. This year, the edge Peters plays with will just be a Raiders’ thing.

“I was always a Raider, man,” Peters said. “It was something that was in me since I was a little kid, but it feels good to be a Raider now, to be able to play in the same uniforms that I watched growing up.”

Click HERE to subscribe for free to the Weekly Fix, the digital edition of Las Vegas Weekly! Stay up to date with the latest on Las Vegas concerts, shows, restaurants, bars and more, sent directly to your inbox!

Source link


Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

Willow Manor