Heeney is coming up on 13 weeks since having surgery and is about three weeks from being able to do contact work. He recorded 15 tackles in only four games for the Raiders in 2016, so his return to action should give a boost to Oakland's front seven.
Heeney will end his second season in an untimely manner, after recording 15 tackles in just four games. The 23-year-old started the season as the team's starting middle linebacker, but was replaced by Cory James in Week 3. The
Heeney notched five tackles (three solo) during Sunday's victory against the Saints.
Heeney's numbers figure to improve after the starting middle linebacker didn't have too many opportunities at making tackles Sunday, with the Saints running the ball just 22 times while quarterback Drew Brees recorded 42 pass attempts. It's not every week the Raiders will be able to give up more than 30 points and still win, so Heeney and his defense will look to improve next week against the Falcons.
At 6-foot, 231 pounds, there are questions regarding Heeney's ability to excel at the position due to being undersized, particularly against the run. The Raiders take on the Titans in their third preseason game Saturday, so Heeney figures to get plenty of reps against their run-first offense. In his rookie year, the 23-year-old racked up 38 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 15 games; those numbers figure to rise with his increased role this season.
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