The Las Vegas Raiders were among the healthiest teams in the NFL heading into Week 1 with only one player on the injury report who ended up playing. That quickly changed as the team got banged up early and often against the Los Angeles Chargers. In the first half, the Raiders lost starting cornerback Anthony Averett.
He did not return to the game after heading to the locker room. More information has come to light regarding his injury and it is bad news for Las Vegas. Averett broke his right thumb and will be heading for surgery, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. He’ll be out for at least a month and could be having a stint on the Injured Reserve.
Averett signed to the team this offseason after four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. The Raiders were high on him, which is one of the reasons they didn’t bring in any more notable cornerbacks. The team is planning on signing Nickell Robey-Coleman as a temporary replacement. The Raiders pass defense looked solid against Justin Herbert in the second half of the opener so the team shouldn’t be too concerned right now. They won’t face many quarterbacks better than Herbert throughout the season.
Nate Hobbs Becoming Raiders’ Most Important DB
Cornerback appeared to be one of the Raiders’ biggest needs heading into the offseason but they suspiciously didn’t make big pushes to sign J.C. Jackson, Stephon Gilmore or James Bradberry. That could be due to the fact that they already have a No. 1 cornerback on a rookie deal.
Nate Hobbs spent almost the entirety of last season as the starting slot cornerback. While the Raiders are still playing him there, he played 21 snaps on the outside, per Pro Football Focus. He played 26 total snaps on the outside last season.
Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham clearly has a lot of faith in Hobbs’ ability to lineup anywhere on the defense. He showed in Week 1 that he can do whatever the team needs him to at a high level. PFF gave Hobbs an 83.8 grade for his performance, which was the third-best grade on the team.
As a fifth-round pick last year, Hobbs has already proven to be a steal. Now, if he can continue to improve, he could be looked at as one of the best young cornerbacks in the entire NFL after the season is over.
Maxx Crosby Talks Slow Defensive Start to Season
Maxx Crosby was one of the few other Raiders who came to play on Sunday. Though he couldn’t notch a sack on Herbert, he did finish the game with a team-high 92.9 PFF grade. Las Vegas’ defense was bad to start the game but only allowed seven points in the second half despite the offense throwing two interceptions. Crosby was happy with how he saw his team improve as the game went on.
“We just kind of started slow, but we played better football in the second half,” Crosby said after the game, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “It sucks because you play the Chargers and you want to beat them. We have a new defense that is different in a lot of ways, and we executed better and better as the game went on.
“Seeing the guys flying around in the second half was inspiring for sure.”