Despite some reports the day he was drafted that Jihad Ward might need arthroscopic knee surgery, the second-round defensive lineman was on the field participating Friday.
“He looked pretty good, right?,” Del Rio said. “Don’t trust all those reports out there. We felt pretty good about our reports. He looks terrific.”
Ward recently finished up his finals at Illinois and sounds eager to focus just on football.
“School really wasn’t my thing, but I had to do it,” Ward said. “Once I finished that, I was just ready to go. I’m happy just being around here. Now I can just worry about football.”
When Ward spoke on his conference call shortly after being drafted, he even had some uncertainty on if he’d need another surgery on his knee. He suffered a slight tear of his meniscus shortly before his senior year and had surgery then and the Raiders weren’t concerned about it when they examined it further.
“I’m completely fine,” Ward said. “I’m running around. I’m flying around. As Coach Del Rio said, ‘Just keep flying around.’ So I’m doing what I have to do.”
Termed by some as a project — even general manager Reggie McKenzie said Ward was “raw” — Ward looks the NFL part and said Friday he thinks he’s ready to be a contributor.
“I’m ready, but I still need coaches just to help me,” he said. “You have to learn from the greats. I’m learning from all these coaches…. You can be great, but you have to learn from coaches.”