Jihad Ward didn’t travel to Chicago for the 2016 NFL Draft

The Oakland Raiders have selected Illinois DE in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

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The Oakland Raiders have signed second-round draft pick DL Jihad Ward, the club announced Wednesday. Ward was selected 44th overall by the Raiders in last month’s draft. He played two seasons at Illinois after transferring from Globe Institute of Technology in New York, N.Y. At Illinois, he started all 25 games, totaling 104 tackles, 4.5 sacks, three passes defensed, three forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. He posted 81 tackles and 10 sacks at Globe Tech.

The Oakland Raiders were back at practice Thursday, just not at their home facility. The team has been preparing for this Sunday’s game at the IMG Academy, and rookie defensive end Jihad Ward shared his thoughts on the team’s preparation so far. The Raiders will square off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, and Ward believes that he can continue to help the team get better.

Jihad Ward didn’t travel to Chicago for the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Oakland Raiders used their second round selection (No. 44 overall) to add another athletic player who can get after the quarterback, selecting University of Illinois defensive end Jihad Ward.

Oakland Raiders second round pick DE Jihad Ward spoke to reporters via conference call after his selection in the 2016 NFL Draft.

That mindset is echoed by the team’s players, and while Monday’s matchup at Estadio Azteca certainly provides a change from the norm, they know that there is no doubt a job to do – particularly with how tight things currently are in the AFC West.
“It’s just the next game,” rookie defensive end Jihad Ward said. “We just have to keep getting better, and just compete until the next game. We‘re onto the next. It’s a big game for us. It’s Monday Night Football, but we’re going to treat it like a regular game. We’re going to play Raider football.”

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That “Raider football” as Ward describes it, has been synonymous with a high-flying offense led by quarterback Derek Carr, but over the last month in particular, defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.’s group has shown a marked improvement, and Ward hopes to see that improvement continue against the Texans in primetime.

It was just minutes after the Oakland Raiders had beaten the Carolina Panthers, and Jihad Ward jersey authentic  sat quietly at his locker. With his eye black smeared all over his cheeks, and his ankles still taped, the rookie defensive end sat silently, unable to verbalize what he had just seen transpire over the past four quarters. Over the past three hours, Ward had watched a defensive clinic, and the teacher of the class was none other than his teammate Khalil Mack.

Raiders Hall of Fame defensive end and FOX Sports NFL analyst spoke to SiriusXM NFL Radio about the Raiders signing of former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith.

Howie Long seemed like an unlikely star for the Oakland Raiders when his selection in the second round of the 1981 Draft shocked the NFL. But, the Boston-native ended up playing for 13 years, earning his way to eight Pro Bowls, a Gold Jacket in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and a spot on the 1st team All-1980s Team.

Nike Raiders #95 Jihad Ward Green Men’s Stitched NFL Limited Salute to Service Jersey

Long recently shared his winding and unexpected journey to the NFL Draft and his first experiences in the NFL with Clark Judge on Yahoo! Sports Radio.Nike Raiders #95 Jihad Ward White Men's Stitched NFL Limited Rush Jersey

At the time Long moved to Milford, Mass., he hadn’t played a single organized sport. “I had just played in the street under the El train and that’s where my love of hockey, baseball and football…that’s where the foundation and love for sports and the Celtics, the Bruins and the Red Sox,” Long told Judge on the radio show.

In addition to Rapoport, his NFL Network colleague – and brother of Derek Carr – David Carr was in attendance at Tuesday’s practice. Former Raiders defensive end, and current NFL on FOX studio analyst Howie Long was also at the team’s Napa Valley Training Complex, and is scheduled to speak at Tuesday night’s team meeting.

In last week’s victory over the Broncos in Denver, Mack posted nine tackles (six solo), a career-high five sacks and one forced fumble. His five sacks tied a single-game franchise record, matching Howie Long’s performance on Oct. 2, 1983. Mack became just the sixth player since 1982 to record five sacks and one forced fumble in a game, and he tied the mark for most sacks in a half since 1991. After posting nine sacks over the last three weeks, Mack now leads the NFL with 14 sacks this season.