We’ve reached the point of training camp when players are starting to get a little banged up, but that comes with the territory this time of year. In the last week or so, we’ve seen a handful of players receive a day of rest, or take some time off to recover from lingering injuries, and as the Oakland Raiders get ready for their preseason game Friday against the Detroit Lions, Head Coach Jon Gruden provided an update on the status of some of those players.
“We got a lot more out of these two days than we ever could have had we not done this, but I’d like to compliment our players certainly, coaches, and their players and coaches for working under some tough situations,” Gruden said following practice. “It’s very competitive and very physical out there, a lot of guys got nicked up, I don’t have anything official to report [at the moment].”
Left tackle Donald Penn and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes have been away from the field for some time now, but are nearing their returns to the field. Also, cornerback Gareon Conley is continuing his rehab, and is expected back at some point in the coming weeks.
“No I don’t. I do not,” Gruden said when asked if he knows when Penn will return. “He’s getting close, I think Rod Martin our trainer is pleased with the progress that he’s made. Hopefully that time is soon.”
Gruden also commented on the absence of wide receiver Seth Roberts and safety Obi Melifonwu:
“Seth’s sore. We didn’t play Seth today,” Gruden explained. “Hopefully we have him available here in the next day or so. Obi has had a flare up. Lower body injury of some kind. We’re still looking into that.”
Fortunately for Gruden, and the team, the preseason serves as the best time to see what some of the players deeper on the depth chart are made of. Preserving the health and energy of the veterans and starters is key in order to endure the length of the regular season. This Friday, several players will get an opportunity for extensive playing time, and if their impact is great enough, they might be asked to fill in for an injured veteran come Week 1.
When asked whether the backups would see a fair amount of snaps Friday, Gruden shared what part of the team’s plan is.
“You go into the preseason game, the number one preseason game Friday night and you’re not going to play your starters,” he said. “If you do, you’re not going to play them very much but they got quality reps. You’re seeing Derek Carr versus Matt Stafford, blitz pickup, nine-on-seven, two minute drill, move the ball and it’s as close to the real deal as you’re going to get so you get a lot of work done and now you taper it off for the first team guys and you get a chance to really isolate who you want to see in the preseason game. I think it’s going to be real beneficial.”
With players like Penn, Roberts, and Conley out, the Raiders have seen tackle Kolton Miller, wide receiver Marcell Ateman, and cornerback Daryl Worley step in to provide quality minutes here in camp. I fully expect to see a healthy dose of all three players against the Lions, and I’m anxious to see how they perform.
Even though the season is just around the bend, the players hampered by injuries still have time to recover and make their way back in the fold.
Stay posted for more updates regarding the team’s injuries on raiders.com. The Raiders will take the field at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.