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Raiders Mailbag: Can Raiders defense survive rematch against Denver Broncos despite injuries and COVID-19?

@shawnymoe2531 asks:

"What is going on with Javin White, how come he's not getting more playing time?"

Javin White – when he has been elevated from the practice squad for gamedays – has shown he's a great talent to use at the linebacker position, and has played well when given the opportunities to shine. But the lack of play for White outside of special teams has to do more with the progression of the Raiders' 80th overall 2021 draft pick.

Divine Deablo has been stellar since stepping in for injuries at the linebacker position. The rookie has racked up 25 tackles in the past three games, and his play has not gone unnoticed by anyone in the locker room.

"I think he's certainly got more versed in what we are calling on defense and how it works, and he's played multiple positions for us on defense," Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia said about Deablo. "I think (linebackers coach) Richard Smith has done a great job with him, getting him prepared week in and week out and more practice reps, more practice reps, more practice reps. ... So, I think we're excited about the progress he's made, getting more and more reps on defense and now it's starting to show up in the game. So, we really expect him to play well each week."

With all of that being said, expect Deablo – and White if elevated again – to continue to fill the role as needed in this Silver and Black defense battling injuries and COVID-related issues.

Eric Glatze asks:

"Who is going to replace Johnathan Abram in the secondary?"

That's a good question, Eric.

Johnathan Abram was at the tail end of a productive season, beneficial in the box safety role and ranking second on the team in tackles behind Pro Bowler Denzel Perryman. After sustaining a shoulder injury in Cleveland, Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia confirmed Friday that the safety has had surgery and will hopefully return next following the holidays to begin rehab with the team. The Raiders now must dig deep against the Broncos to fill the strong safety position that Abram has started at every game at this season.

Roderic Teamer was placed on the Reserve/COVID list Thursday, so the brunt of the snaps at strong safety could go to Dallin Leavitt and potentially rookie Tyree Gillespie, who is working back from IR. Leavitt has two pass deflections and two fumble recoveries this season, while Gillespie has made his impact on special teams in the eight games he's played.

"It's still a little bit of a work in progress right now," Gus Bradley said Thursday regarding the secondary. "I guess every team is dealing with this COVID issue and we're getting a little bit in the secondary.

"So, we've just got to adjust as best as we can. Fortunately the coaches have done a good job all during the season. We try to split up our reps where the two's get reps and a group of plays. So, we are going to have to rely on that part of it, our preparation."

Sergio Gonzalez Madrigal says:

"Well, it depends which Carr comes to play Sunday."

There's only one Derek Carr that comes to play every game, but the team simply hasn't lost this season when Carr is balling out.

The Raiders are still 6-0 in games that Carr has thrown over 300 yards, with their only win of him throwing for less coming last Monday against the Browns. The Raiders are also 5-2 in games Carr has thrown at least two touchdowns. 

The QB told the media Wednesday that he gets a lot of advice on how to aggressively attack defenses from Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner. The advice seems to be paying off with the large amount of deep shots Carr has taken throughout the season.

"Whether you are hitting them or not, just the fact that they know you'll throw it. It only takes one play sometimes," said Carr. "And so, really, it's the last couple years just keeping that mindset of when it's there, let's take that shot. Are we going to be perfect every time? No. The percentages on doing that in the NFL, it's not the highest percentage, but it does do something in the mindset of the coordinator and the players that, 'Hey, we will do this. Even if it's not really open, we'll still take that chance.'"

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