While the 2018 NFL season did not go as planned for defensive tackle Justin Ellis, he is optimistic about a potential resurgence for the Oakland Raiders in 2019.
Ellis signed a three-year contract extension with Oakland last offseason. Unfortunately, he was hampered by a foot injury that caused him to miss 10 games in the 2018 campaign.
Although he managed to return by Week 12, he was never able to find his footing in the Raiders’ rotation. Fortunately, Ellis is much more hopeful about his chances this season following the first week of voluntary workouts.
According to Kyle Martin of the team’s official website, he admits it is nice not having to worry about the injury this time around:
“This is my first time really [being tested mentally],” Ellis said. “I told my mom and dad when I got home, I was really like, ‘dang, I was really injured this time.’ It tested me cause even when I wanted to come back I couldn’t, my foot was still hurting me; and even when I came back my foot was still hurting me. I focused on it and stayed on top of my weight, and stuff like that.”
He continued, “not being able to play the game that I love and be around my teammates that I grind with all summer. I’m a hard worker, so that being snatched from me was a test.”
This is certainly an encouraging update from Ellis. Oakland had high hopes for him when they extended his contract last offseason, however, it is clear that the injury had taken its toll on him both physically and mentally.
Ellis will be looking to etch out a role as the Raiders’ potential anchor up front on defense. While he is not known for being a premier pass-rusher, Oakland is still in need of an effective run-stuffer to help stabilize their rebuilding defensive line moving forward.