It’s long been said by countless coaches and players around the league that Thursday Night Football is a challenge because of the quick turn around and lack of rest, but in 2019 each team gets their shot on a short week.
The Oakland Raiders are just 72 hours away from taking the field against the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers, and several members of the squad are banged up, which puts the team in a delicate situation.
Entering Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, the Raiders were already dealing with their fair share of injuries; Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson dealt with an injured knee all week, and it’s been ailing him for some time now. The Raiders are thin at linebacker with Nicholas Morrow and Tahir Whitehead both suffering from injuries, and Justin Phillips is out for the year with a knee injury. All of this is to reiterate that the Raiders were already hobbled prior to Week 9.
The days leading up to a game are crucial for a players’ recovery and getting time to decompress can’t be rushed.
“I think physically is the biggest challenge,” Daryl Worley told reporters Sunday when asked what the biggest difficulty was on a short week. “I don’t think people really realize that those recovery days are really pivotal going into the week of a game.”
Following the Raiders 31-24 win over the Lions, the number of players with injuries only increased, and it’s unclear how many of them will be ready to go for Thursday night’s game.
Early in the first quarter against Detroit, dominant right tackle Trent Brown hopped off the field with a sore right knee, and despite his best efforts to reenter the game was unable to put any pressure on his right leg.
“He’s getting an MRI,” Gruden said Monday. “Those MRIs take a while, so we’ll have to wait until a little bit later this afternoon to find out. But, David Sharpe did a good job. Hopefully we have Trent, if not we’ll have to go with David Sharpe, who has played quite well in the games that he has been in.”
In addition to the loss of Brown, cornerback Daryl Worley suffered a strained achilles during the game and his status for Thursday is questionable. Defensively the woes continue to get worse as Coach Gruden told the media the team feared defensive end Arden Key broke his foot yesterday.
“Arden Key, we fear broke his foot,” Gruden shared. “I’m worried about that. I don’t want to predict anything, but I do have a lot of concerns that Arden is injured. But I’m waiting to hear on the finality of all the others. But, I can’t really tell you the severity of anything until I know.”
Brown and Key were the biggest names Gruden provided an update on, but the injuries stem deep on this roster and at the halfway point of the season the team will need to find a way to push on. Fortunately, rookie cornerback Isaiah Johnson was activated off the Injured Reserve Monday and is expected to play Thursday against Los Angeles.
“We activated him,” Coach Gruden said. “He’ll be hopefully up playing. We released Brandon Marshall, hard thing to do, to make room for Isaiah. Another young corner. Like we said a couple weeks ago when we made the trade, we’d like to see Isaiah play the second half of the season and see him develop.”
Every team around the league is banged up at this point, but the Raiders have been dealt a tough hand considering they only have three days to recover, but complaining gets you nowhere in this league.