‘I’m feeling better than I ever have’

If he didn’t admit it, you might have never known Crosby was hurt in 2023. He set new career-high marks in sacks (14.5), tackles (90) and tackles for loss (23), earned his third Pro Bowl nod and garnered a second-team All-Pro selection — and did so without much of a running mate opposite him.

Crosby played in all 17 games, too, even while it required frequent additional medical attention. Still, that didn’t stop him.

“I was definitely banged up,” Crosby told reporters on Monday. “My knee was an issue, but I was able to play. I definitely don’t want to do that again and go through that — draining it multiple times every week — it was a pain in the ass.

“But we made it through, so it was even more motivation when people were like ‘shut it down, shut it down, shut it down.’ I was like no, I’m not like everybody else, to be completely honest. I just had to keep moving.”

With the knowledge Crosby was playing on a knee requiring weekly drainage, his 2023 accomplishments are that much more impressive. And now, he has a new sidekick in defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, Las Vegas’ big-ticket free agent addition.

Crosby is eager to play with Wilkins, but isn’t going to make any rash declarations at this point. He knows games aren’t won in free agency.

“Potential is one thing, action is another,” Crosby said. “For us, it’s about the work — we have a ton of work to do. Me and Christian haven’t played a single snap together, we haven’t done a single rep together. At the end of the day, we got a ton of work to do. I’ve said it many times, Christian is a great player. I’ve been watching Christian and seeing his career from afar for a long time. …

“I’m fired up to get to work with him.”

With the 2024 NFL Draft just 10 days away, Wilkins might not be the last addition to Las Vegas’ defensive front this offseason, either. And regardless of what the Raiders do at the end of the month, fans of the Silver and Black should already feel better about their chances with a fully healthy Crosby ready to resume terrorizing opposing offenses.

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