After breaking training camp on Monday, the Oakland Raiders were back in Alameda, Calif., Tuesday to continue practicing at the team’s facility. The Silver and Black will depart Wednesday for The Great White North, as they play host to the Green Bay Packers in a preseason battle in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
It’s customary for NFL coaches to use the third preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the starting unit, but I’m not sure Head Coach Jon Gruden will trot Derek Carr and Co., on the field against the Packers. He met with reporters following practice Tuesday to provide an update on many of the player’s injuries, but didn’t divulge what the game plan was for Thursday’s game.
“Everybody that’s going to, I think, play,” Gruden said when asked whether everyone would make the trip to Canada. “We’re still looking at our list of injuries and our rotations and finalizing who’s going and who’s not going, because I don’t have any final answer right now.”
With the regular season right around the corner, the coaching staff feels as though they’ve seen more than enough from several players on the roster, and they’re trying to preserve their health for the games that matter. Towards the end of training camp, wide receiver Tyrell Williams was seen on the sidelines standing with General Manager Mike Mayock in sweats and a hoodie, not participating in the team practice. Coach Gruden shared Tuesday that the deep-threat receiver is merely dealing with a cold and there’s no reason to sound the alarm.
“We have a bug going around here,” Gruden explained. “We got a lot of guys that aren’t feeling great. I don’t know that he’ll play or not play right now for the Canada trip.”
While Williams is managing a cold, fellow wide receiver J.J. Nelson is dealing with an injury that might keep him away from the field a tad longer than his counterpart, but Gruden is confident it’s not a serious injury.
“Yup, he’s got a slight ankle,” Coach Gruden shared. “Did not practice today. Don’t think it’s serious, but don’t know that he’ll play. It’s just hard to give you any real, concrete information because we do have a slew of players that are lingering after the three weeks of training camp.”
Nelson has made a few headlines over the past month, between his standout performances in training camp and his highlight-reel plays in the preseason, he’s making a legitimate bid for a roster spot. Against the Rams, Nelson hauled in two receptions for 43 yards, and one of them was a contested jump ball down the sideline. As Gruden stated, it’s not clear when he’ll return to action, but I doubt he’ll play against the Packers.
He also provided a quick update on the status of two rookies, who the Raiders are expecting big things from this season.
“Yeah, he’s got an irritated wrist,” Gruden said of safety Johnathan Abram. “Maxx Crosby is another guy that has a wrist problem, so we’re banged up a little bit. We’ve had a physical training camp and hopefully some of these guys are able to make the trip.”
Expect to see a lot of youth Thursday, as this becomes a make or break game for several players fighting for spots on the roster. Coach Gruden told the media that the upcoming game will serve as the last real shot these players have to proving their worth on the team.
Kickoff against the Packers starts at 5 p.m. PT.
Take a look at the photos from today's practice, as the Raiders hit the field in Alameda, Calif.