Instead of making the immediate impact the Packers expected, Raji was limited to just one start in his first season, and he only posted 25 tackles and one sack over 14 appearances.
Entering his second NFL season, Raji's next task is staying healthy for a whole season, so he can show what he learned as a rookie.
From the sounds of it, Raji is off to a good start.
"What can you do if you get the regular job in the middle?" someone asked him after the Green Bay Packers' organized team activity practice on Wednesday.It's only offseason workouts, but Raji is projecting a good attitude about things. It's great to see that he understands his job isn't to pick up 15 sacks from the nose tackle position. A nose tackle in the 3-4 defense does the dirty work, taking up blockers and clogging up the middle. Simply put, as Raji said, his job is to create an environment where it's easier for the linebackers to flow to the ball and make plays.
"What can I do?" Raji repeated. "Just cause havoc."
... "Sky's the limit for me, I believe," Raji said. "When I come in and wreak havoc, it will change a lot. It makes the lives of Nick (Barnett) and (Brandon Chillar) and A.J. (Hawk) a lot easier. That's what the 3-4 is designed to do, get our linebackers running free and making plays. And when the opportunity presents itself, I'll make the plays myself."
It's reasonable to expect a young player, who was a focal point at his position in college, to think he can do the same in the NFL. Instead, Raji seems grounded enough to get the notion that his teammates are more likely to be the big playmakers in this defense, especially if he's playing well in the middle.
If linemen are getting to the second level and engulfing linebackers, it's a sign that the defense needs to upgrade at nose tackle.
Raji's teammate, former starting nose tackle Ryan Pickett, is impressed by what he's seen from the youngster.
"Aw, man ... I think he's at home (at nose tackle)," Pickett said. "He just fit right in. He's got the body style, quickness, strength. He's not missing nothing. He has all the tangibles to be a great nose tackle.Pickett is moving to defensive end to make room for Raji inside.
"If he can just continue to play how he started last year, that's going to mean the world to our defense. ... His desire is to be the best."
The Packers open a mandatory three-day minicamp in Green Bay Monday, and will start their 65th training camp July 31.