Editor’s note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Redskins matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Oakland Coliseum.
Raiders RT Tony Pashos vs. Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan
Tale of the tape:
Pashos (79): 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, 10th season, Illinois
Kerrigan (91): 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, third season, Purdue
Veteran right tackle Tony Pashos was signed off the scrap heap. The Raiders picked him up after Washington made him a final cut, and he’s flourished in a starting role with just days to prepare for it.
Pashos is one of the NFL’s best pass blockers through three weeks, allowing just one quarterback pressure in 108 passing plays. It wasn’t even a sack or a hit, just a hurry.
That’s near perfect on an injury-riddled offensive line in desperate need of stability.
“He’s played in the league a long time. He’s a real pro,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s prepared himself the right way, and really focuses on fundamentals and technique. He stays in between his guy and the quarterback. It’s really as simple as that. I think sometimes we try to make this game too complicated. It’s not that complicated. You have a guy you’re supposed to block, you stay between him and the quarterback and generally you’re going to be alright. Tony’s done that consistently this season.”
Pashos will have added motivation to do so against the team that cut him four weeks ago. Pashos had a good preseason with Washington, but fell victim to a numbers game on a team that needed help at other spots.
“It’s always emotional when you get cut,” Pashos said after becoming a Raider. “You just hope that you can land on your feet and have an opportunity to contribute. The Raiders have given me that here.”
Pashos has made the most of his chance, created when Menelik Watson injured his knee just before the regular season.
He’ll face a stern test against Kerrigan, a young passer rusher often overshadowed by Brian Orakpo. Kerrigan actually has better stats thus far, with three sacks, two quarterback hits and three hurries in just three weeks. He’s a sure tackler and a creative pass rusher coming off the edge. He has the speed and strength to torment offensive linemen.
Pashos has responded to each challenge, and it would help the Raiders if he could shut Kerrigan down on his own. That would give left tackle Khalif Barnes protection help dealing with Orakpo on the other side and keep a cleaner pocket for the quarterback.