Former EMU star Maxx Crosby on track to be ready for Raiders’ opener

By Art Brooks
Special to The Detroit News
Maxx Crosby

Hold on, Raider Nation. Sit tight.

Maxx Crosby is on the way. Soon enough, fanatics everywhere in black and silver will get to embrace and appreciate Crosby, Oakland's fourth-round draft choice and former Eastern Michigan defensive end.

Crosby suffered a broken left hand in an Aug. 10 preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams. However, indications point to his return for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against visiting Denver and new quarterback Joe Flacco – a 10:20 Monday nighter on ESPN, no less.

A Raiders spokesman said Friday the team was "cautiously optimistic" about Crosby being ready for the Broncos game.

He was a pass-rush specialist in three seasons with the Eagles, totaling 20 sacks in 37 games.

"I feel like I'm a complete player and can impact the game," Crosby told

"The biggest thing is learning the playbook. I still am working on things but have room for improvement. I like to be the guy who puts in the extra work. When your number is called in the NFL, you better be ready."

Oakland was 4-12 last season in coach Jon Gruden's first year, last in the AFC West. The Raiders had 13 sacks, fewest in the NFL, and were outscored, 467-290. On Nov. 3, the Lions visit.

Crosby went on Twitter and said, “I'm Good, Ya'll,” after he was hurt. He should be returning for opening week, according to beat man Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune.

Here's what McDonald had to say last Wednesday about Crosby in an e-mail to The News:

"Don't think there's much chance of Maxx Crosby playing against Green Bay (he didn't in the Aug. 22 game) and probably Seattle (the last preseason game, Aug. 29). Pointing for start of regular season, I was told he'd be ready.

Maxx Crosby

"He injured his left hand reaching out to try and punch the ball loose from a ballcarrier. Was filmed by NFL Films for 'Hard Knocks' series saying his hand 'felt like a noodle.' Went in and had soft cast put on and returned to the game, which impressed the coaches.

"Got a lot of time on the 'Hard Knocks' episode 2 along with his girlfriend Rachel. Filmed and interviewed while getting a 'Madd Maxx' tattoo and another that says 'No. 106' signifying his draft position in the fourth round.

"Had surgery to put a plate in his hand. The plan is for him to play in a legal cast. He is being used as a situational pass rusher along with Arden Key, a second-year player from LSU.

"The starting ends are rookie Clelin Ferrell, who will probably slide inside on passing downs, and Josh Mauro, who is predominantly a run-stopping end on early downs and short-yardage.

"Crosby (6-foot-5) has gone from 240 pounds at the end of his college career to 266 and says he has not lost any speed or quickness."

For his part, Cosby, who wears number 98, is keeping his chin up, if his tweets are any indication.

“Patience Is Everything,” reads one. “Man I Came A Long Way,” says another. Still another was, “22 & Thriving,” honoring his Aug. 22nd birthday.

Crosby even delivered a shout-out to former Eastern teammate Pat O'Connor, now an outside linebacker with Tampa Bay: “My Man Pat Is A Monster.”

Crosby got some long-distance love from Eastern, which sent along a care package of EMU garb.

Eastern coach Chris Creighton sees nothing but upside with Crosby.

After practice last Friday, he told EMU's athletic media relations department: "I think he can be a great player. We're super proud of him. ... He's a great pass rusher ... Nothing's going to stop him. He's an athlete. He's very difficult to block.

He's got a nose for the football." 

Fifth-year right tackle Trent Brown works against Crosby in practice. He's 6-8 and 380, probably the biggest man in the NFL.

"Maxx is good,” Brown told “He can rush the passer, he can defend the run. He has a high motor. He is going to be someone to watch out for.”

The News was unable to reach Crosby for comment through the Raiders' media relations department.

Art Brooks is a retired Detroit News sports copy editor and longtime volunteer at EMU's student newspaper, the Echo.