The Oakland Raiders wasted no time putting points on the board Monday night, as running back Marshawn Lynch carried practically the entire Rams defense 10 yards for a first quarter touchdown. Regardless of how the game ended, there wasn’t a lack of effort from the offense. Against a team like the Rams, starting on a high note is key, and while the offense initially started the game strong, long snapper Andrew DePaola was unable to experience a similar start to 2018.
After a very successful opening drive, the Raiders offense stalled on its second drive of the game, and was forced to punt. Backed up in their own territory, the special teams unit took the field, featuring rookie punter Johnny Townsend, and DePaola. Immediately after the snap, DePaola went down, clutching his knee, and was then taken aside to be evaluated by the strength and conditioning staff.
Certainly not the way you want to start a season, but tight end Lee Smith stepped in as the emergency long snapper, and the special teams unit managed to convert two field goals.
“Lee [Smith] had to do all the snapping tonight,” Gruden said postgame. “Credit to Lee Smith, but it is an injury we are concerned about. We are proud of Smith for stepping up and doing some really tough work under a short notice.”
Smith has widely been considered a blocking tight end for years now, but he’s shown time and again he’s more than that. That said, moving forward the hope is that he won’t be put in that position again.
Asked Monday about the status of DePaola, Gruden was unable to give a concrete update on the specifics of the injury, but did say that the Silver and Black would need a new long snapper.
“Yes I believe so, that was tough losing our long snapper on the very first punt,” Gruden said. “Lee Smith came in – I don’t think the fans knew it, I don’t know if the Rams knew it – but he fired it back there fairly accurately, credit to Lee Smith.”
Gruden went on to say that the Raiders worked out a few different long snappers Tuesday afternoon, and the team will most likely have a new one come Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Gruden didn’t disclose DePaola’s injury, but implied he’ll miss substantial time.