It hasn’t been a great weekend for Las Vegas Raiders third-round picks. First, Lynn Bowden Jr. got traded and now it looks like Tanner Muse is going to miss some time because of injury. Per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the rookie linebacker is headed to the injured reserve.
The #Raiders are putting promising rookie LB Tanner Muse on injured reserve because of a toe injury, source said. The plan is for the third-round pick — who turns 24 today — to return this season, but he’s likely to miss at least a month.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 6, 2020
Unlike Bowden, Muse actually made the roster but it looks like he’ll miss some time. Fortunately, he won’t be missing the whole season. As Pelissero pointed out, the linebacker should only miss around a month. The toe injury doesn’t sound severe so Muse will get a chance to play relatively soon. However, the Raiders might prefer it if he missed a little bit more time.
Muse Struggled Greatly in Training Camp
When the Raiders drafted Muse, he was always supposed to be a project. He played safety in college but Las Vegas is having him play linebacker. He was also expected to be a key special teams contributor. While the team knew there would be growing pains, they probably didn’t expect him to struggle as much as he did in training camp.
Shortly before roster cuts took place, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur gave some insight into Muse’s bad camp:
The rookie was going to maker the roster regardless, thanks to being a third-round pick, but it was hard to envision him having a role beyond special teams. And Muse was totally lost the first week of camp. I am not even sure having a map out on the practice field would have helped.
The reviews of Muse at camp haven’t been good. Apparently the transition to linebacker hasn’t been easy for him. The Raiders had really good luck with Clemson players last year but they shouldn’t expect much from their newer Clemson alumni this year. Unlike Bowden, there aren’t any character concerns with Muse. He’ll probably pick up the position at some point. He’s really athletic for his size and definitely fits in with the Raiders. It’s probably just going to take a little more time for him to see the field than originally anticipated.
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Potential Replacements for Muse
Muse isn’t out for the season so the Raiders won’t need a long-term replacement for him. With roster cuts just happening, there are plenty of familiar options available to Las Vegas. Kyle Wilber would be the most logical player to bring back. He plays the same position as Muse and was the team’s special teams captain last year. It would make sense to have him replace the rookie until he gets healthy.
The Raiders could also try to add depth elsewhere. They surprisingly let go of veteran offensive tackle Sam Young. The leaves Brandon Parker as the main backup tackle the team has. Based on how Parker’s played in the past and Trent Brown’s injury history, it would probably be wise to bring Young back. It will be a temporary position as the Raiders aren’t likely to cut Muse despite his poor play. They can’t admit that they whiffed on two third-round picks this soon.