Coming off of an embarrassing primetime loss isn’t easy. Perhaps that’s why the Oakland Raiders are playing things particularly lowkey this week. The coaching staff is presumably attempting to make the necessary corrections behind the scenes before Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos.
X-Rays Negative for Michael Crabtree, Status for Sunday Up in the Air
One of the most disappointing aspects of last Sunday night was the performance of the Raiders receivers, particularly Crabtree and Amari Cooper. The normally dynamic duo got completely erased from the game by the Washington Redskins secondary, led by stud cornerback Josh Norman.
The night got even worse for Crabtree when he took a hard (but legal) hit from rookie Montae Nicholson going up for a pass early in the fourth quarter. He left the game with a chest injury as a result of that play and did not return, with his immediate health status unknown.
Thankfully, Crabtree avoided sustaining a serious injury. An X-ray for his chest came back negative on that front, according to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur. He was able to participate in practice on a limited basis today, so his status for the upcoming game in Denver should become more clear later in the week.
And the Rest: Relatively Healthy Otherwise
The Raiders actually went into the game versus Washington with their entire active roster available to play. Sean Smith was the lone player who was listed as questionable, and he ended up playing anyway (for all of three snaps before Vernon Davis beat him for a touchdown).
This week’s a bit worse, but it isn’t a huge issue either. Aside from Crabtree, Jalen Richard was also forced out with an injury last Sunday, specifically with a calf strain. He was limited in practice today. Cooper and Keith McGill were also limited; the latter missed the first two games of 2017 with a foot injury.
Gareon Conley was the only player who was entirely absent. The first round rookie missed the first game of the season with a shin injury, which has been a nagging problem for him so far.
Vegas Bound in 2020? Not So Fast
When the Raiders announced their future move to Las Vegas back in January, the general assumption was that they’d finish out their lease with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through 2018, potentially staying for 2019 if their new stadium wasn’t ready yet. 2020 was seen as a definitive date for the relocation.
Now that seems to be in doubt. Richard N. Velotta of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on Monday that the team is considering looking to extend their current lease in Oakland through 2020. While it’s far too early to say if such a development could lead to a scrapping of the relocation altogether, it is a little peculiar, especially since the NFL has already approved the move.
Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak told the Review-Journal that the city is still on target to finish construction of the new stadium by 2020, so maybe the Raiders are keeping their options open in case building gets delayed. The team currently has no home for 2019.
Sam Boyd Stadium, which serves as the football home for UNLV, has generally been seen as too small for an NFL team, though that thought is kind of obsolete, considering that the Los Angeles Chargers are presently playing in a soccer stadium. In any case, the situation is worth keeping an eye on.
Snap Counts: No Surprises on Offense, Some Eye-Opening Stuff on Defense
A quick and simple way to see how a team is using its players is to check out the most obvious statistic: snap counts. Our pals over at Pro Football Reference have them for each team, so let’s look at the ones for the Raiders.
On offense, there isn’t anything that stands out. Derek Carr and most of the offensive line have played every snap; the Raiders rotated Marshall Newhouse and Vadal Alexander a bit at right tackle during week 1, but the former has established himself as the full-time starter since then.
The running back snaps have been split close to last year’s, with Marshawn Lynch taking the departed Latavius Murray‘s spot, and Richard and DeAndre Washington getting the rest. Cordarrelle Patterson has also gotten a few looks in the backfield as well. One surprise has been Seth Roberts getting more looks than Patterson at slot receiver.
For the defense, the biggest shock has been undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow earning more snaps than fifth-rounder Marquel Lee and Tyrell Adams alongside Cory James and Bruce Irvin. This is most likely because Morrow is much better at pass coverage than his two teammates, and with NFL teams using nickel packages more and more, it makes more sense to put him on the field instead. Lee remains the starter at middle linebacker though.
Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson have not missed a snap at safety. David Amerson and T.J. Carrie have gotten the lion’s share of reps at cornerback, though that’s mostly because Smith and Conley have both missed a game each due to injury.
Mario Edwards Jr. and Denico Autry have essentially split time at defensive end. Seventh-rounder Treyvon Hester has gotten more snaps than starter Justin Ellis at defensive tackle, though that could come from the former being a better pass rusher than the latter.