It looks like the Las Vegas Raiders will be down a key player on September 10 against the Denver Broncos. Defensive end Chandler Jones has been away from the team this week after he made a number of posts on his Instagram calling out head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler.
It’s still unclear what exactly is going on with Jones as the Raiders have remained mum on the issues. However, there’s now some clarity about his playing status for Week 1.
“I don’t expect Brandon Facyson or Chandler to play this week,” McDaniels said during his September 8 media availability.
While McDaniels came short of completely ruling out Jones, it sounds like the expectation is that he won’t be playing. This will be a blow to the Raiders pass rush. Jones is coming off a down year where he had just 4.5 sacks in 15 games, which is the worst number he’s put up in a season where he played more than five games.
Jones leaned up this offseason and looked explosive in training camp so it seemed as if he was poised for a bounce-back year. That’s still possible but it remains to be seen what his playing status will be going forward.
Chandler Jones Says He’s Feeling Amazing
Chandler Jones’ social media activity has been sporadic over the past few days. Fortunately, it seems as if he’s finally in better spirits. He posted on X on September 8 that he “woke up feeling amazing.”
Jones has been volatile on social media in recent days so it’s a positive sign for the team that he seems to have calmed down. That said, this is been an unusual situation and with little information offered up by the team, Jones will continue to be a player to watch. The biggest question going forward is whether or not he has played his last down of football with the Raiders.
Malcolm Koonce & Tyree Wilson Must Step Up
While the Raiders were expecting to have Chandler Jones play a big role this season, they do have contingencies in place. At 33, Jones was never supposed to be a long-term running mate for star defensive end Maxx Crosby. The team selected Tyree Wilson with the No. 7 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Wilson missed all of organized team activities and a big chunk of training camp as he recovered from a foot injury he suffered during his senior season at Texas Tech. Having Jones would’ve allowed the Raiders to bring the rookie along slowly but there may need to be a change of plans.
Las Vegas could also look to former third-round pick Malcolm Koonce to make an impact. He hasn’t done much across his first two seasons in the NFL. He has taken just 116 defensive snaps, per Pro Football Reference. However, he put together a very strong training camp and could be poised for a breakout season. Now that Jones could miss some time, Koonce could be the next man up if the Raiders still hope to bring Wilson along slowly.
If the two young pass rushers can play well, that would make the Jones situation much less critical for Las Vegas.