Raiders’ Maxx Crosby says knee is ‘feeling better than ever’

The second half of last season took on a familiar routine for Las Vegas Raiders pass-rush maniac Maxx Crosby.

Sit out the week of practice and be ready on Sunday.

Bad knee and all, Crosby was ready and played in all 17 games. But he also knew he needed to get healthy after the season, and Crosby said Monday as the Raiders began their offseason program that he’s done exactly that.

“Rehab has been incredible,” Crosby said. “I just did my conditioning test last week and smashed it, and I’m feeling better than I ever have. So it’s been an incredible offseason so far.”

A healthy Crosby is bad news for the rest of the NFL.

Even at far less than full health last season, he still finished with career highs of 14 1/2 sacks and 90 tackles. He was sixth in the league in sacks.

“I look at myself like a warrior,” Crosby said. “You’re going to have to kill me to take me off the field, and I tell my coaches that. It sounds crazy, but it’s the truth. I don’t look at this like a game. This is my life. I put everything into it. I work literally all year round.”

His work ethic is revered around Raiders headquarters, and coach Antonio Pierce has noted more than once that Crosby is on a different level when it comes to his commitment to getting better.

Crosby remains in Las Vegas during the offseason to work out at the team facilities, arriving at 6 a.m. each day and leaving at 2 p.m. Pierce asked Crosby to take the lead in asking more of his teammates to also remain in town, and about 30 did so.

“AP challenged me early,” Crosby said. “It’s not just about me. There are a lot of really good players, but the great ones bring others up. I took that personal. It helps when you’ve got (veterans) coming in because it gives the young guys no other option but to be here.

“I feel like this team has all the potential. We have more than enough talent to go out there and achieve great things, but all that is (expletive) unless you go out there and do it yourself. So we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Can the Raiders play the Chiefs tough enough?

Can the Raiders play the Chiefs tough enough?

As of Tuesday, Crosby is firmly in the running as a favorite to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year next season. At DraftKings Sportsbook, he’s tied for third on the oddsboard at +700, alongside Cleveland’s Myles Garrett and San Francisco’s Nick Bosa. 

Dallas’ Micah Parsons has the shortest odds (+500), followed by Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt (+600).

Crosby, a big fan of combat sports, boxed three or four times a week this offseason as part of his training regimen and even sparred with MMA bantamweight Dominick Cruz about a week ago.

He also attended Saturday night’s UFC 300 in Las Vegas and saw a bit of himself in Max Holloway. Despite being on his way to winning on the judges’ cards, Holloway challenged Justin Gaethje to go all out in the final 10 seconds. After a flurry of punches by both fighters, Holloway knocked out Gaethje with 1 second left in the five-round bout.

“That was one of the coldest things I’ve ever seen with my two eyes,” Crosby said. “Being right there, seeing it in person, I literally was just saying, ‘Oh my God,’ for 10 minutes straight. I could not believe that happened. … That’s what I love about fighting so much, and Holloway is just a prime example of ‘I don’t care, I’m not here to just win, I’m here to put (a) stamp on this and be the baddest dude in the game.’ And he proved that times 10 on Saturday night.”

Crosby knows the Raiders, who went 8-9 last season, have plenty to prove as well, and while he said he likes the pieces that are on this roster, none of it matters if the work doesn’t get done.

It was that work where Crosby wanted to place his focus, not what happened in the Raiders’ stadium in February. One of Las Vegas’ fiercest rivals, Kansas City, won the Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling planted a Chiefs flag on the field.

“If you’re worried about and thinking about the other guys, you’re wasting time and energy,” Crosby said. “At the end of the day, he wouldn’t plant a flag on a Raider logo, I guarantee you that.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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