Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Raiders’ Will Compton making most of extended stay

Matt Kawahara Dec. 17, 2019 Updated: Dec. 17, 2019 8:56 p.m.

Raiders linebacker Will Compton tackles Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) during the second half when Oakland lost its lead and went down to defeat 20-16 at the Coliseum.
Photo: Daniel Shirey / Getty Images

One thing linebacker Will Compton has learned in his relatively short time with the Raiders: the beneficial properties of lavender.
Compton signed with the Raiders on Oct. 30 and has since been living at an extended-stay hotel near the team’s facility. At one point, he said, he noticed some bug bites. Lavender, it turns out, is an insect repellent.
“So I’ll kind of rub myself with lavender essential oil — put it around my bed like a vampire, just kind of set my ritual up,” Compton said. “Knock on wood, I’ve been bug bite-free since I’ve started that.”
Another thing Compton has learned: the Raiders’ defensive system. On Sunday against the Jaguars, he played every defensive snap in a 20-16 loss.
“He didn’t come off the field,” head coach Jon Gruden said Monday. “For a guy that walked in here last month, it’s pretty incredible, really.”
Compton, 30, led the Raiders with nine tackles and wore the green-dot helmet, designating his role relaying defensive calls to teammates. Tahir Whitehead previously had that responsibility, taking the job after Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the season following Week 4.
The shuffle came after Gruden had promised changes on defense in the wake of a 42-21 loss to the Titans on Dec. 8 in which the Raiders allowed 552 total yards. Whitehead, the Raiders’ leading tackler this season who played every defensive snap from Weeks 5 to 14, played 34 of 57 Sunday. Linebackers Nicholas Morrow played 22 and Marquel Lee 19.
Compton had played a total of 67 defensive snaps in his first six games with the Raiders before logging all 57 against Jacksonville.
“Last week, they just said I was going to start getting more time on the field,” Compton said Monday. “It kind of came out of nowhere a little bit, but you’ve got to be ready.
“A lot of credit honestly to Tahir, because he’s kind of been next to me and in my ear the entire time helping me in the defense, the terminology. But yeah, man, it’s wild how it all works.”
Undrafted in 2013 out of Nebraska, Compton signed with and spent his first five seasons with Washington, making 15 starts and recording a career-high 106 tackles in 2016. Four of his five seasons there came under head coach Jay Gruden, Jon’s brother. Compton said the two are “very similar,” but that he viewed playing for Jon as “like checking off a bucket list” item.
“Of the coaches I’ve played for, he’s probably been the best motivator,” Compton said.
A foot injury limited Compton to nine games in 2017 and he signed last season with the Titans, playing in 12 games, mostly on special teams. A free agent this offseason, Compton said he and his camp figured teams would target him for a one-year, league-minimum deal. So he turned down a series of tryouts hoping a team would call him on the strength of previous game video.
Compton signed Aug. 21 with the Saints but was injured in the preseason finale and released. By Week 8, he was still unemployed.
“I was actually coming to grips thinking I might not get called for this year,” Compton said. “I was never really frustrated. Stuff off the field, I was excited about other things, so it took my mind off of it.”
In May, Compton and former Tennessee teammate Taylor Lewan launched a podcast called “Bussin’ With the Boys.” Per its website, the podcast has a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts and about 30 episodes with such guests as Kirk Cousins, Jalen Ramsey, country-music artist Thomas Rhett and Olympic gold-medal gymnast Shawn Johnson East with husband and free-agent long snapper Andrew East.
Compton said he and Lewan figured there are few athletes “that put their stuff out there, their brand or anything like that.” He said he also wondered if that might deter potential NFL suitors.
“You just don’t know — you’re out there now,” Compton said. “But it’s caught some traction and we have some big plans for it in the future.”
In late October, Compton, still living in Nashville, visited the Raiders for a workout and signed. He started out playing limited snaps as a middle linebacker in the base defense but, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said last month, grasped the scheme quickly. Compton said he felt “solid” wearing the green dot Sunday, having previously done so in Washington.
“I’m very grateful for what has kind of come into fruition,” Compton said.
Along with serving as a new recording space for podcast intros, Compton’s living quarters have lent themselves to him getting up to speed.
“You’re an Oakland Raider and playing for this storied program — I joke with everybody that I’ve got to keep myself humble staying in an extended stay,” Compton said. “But it’s been fun, man. It’s just been a grind.”
Matt Kawahara is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @matthewkawahara

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