The Las Vegas Raiders started off the season with a massive win over the Baltimore Ravens but there are still some major questions to come from the game. One thing that stood out prior to kickoff was that defensive end Clelin Ferrell was listed inactive as a healthy scratch. He was the No. 4 overall in 2019 and has already fallen down the depth chart. Not even getting the opportunity to play would be a very bad sign.
However, there could be more to the story. Ferrell has been banged up over the last couple of weeks and has missed a number of practices. He was listed as a full participant all last week and didn’t have an injury designation heading into the game but head coach Jon Gruden claimed that he was held out due to his health.
“Back ailments. His time’s coming. He’ll return to the lineup, probably this week,” Gruden told reporters on Monday.
Ferrell hasn’t been the player the team hoped he would be but he doesn’t deserve to be a healthy scratch. He may be the Raiders’ best run defending defensive end and they were playing a run-first Ravens team. It will be telling if he continues to be a healthy scratch throughout the season.
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No Reason for Raiders to Give up on Ferrell Yet
Ferrell is not an elite pass rusher and isn’t likely to ever become one. He only has 6.5 sacks over his first two seasons. Based on how Week 1 went, the Raiders don’t need him to bring a ton of pass rush. Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are proving to be very good at getting after the quarterback.
Ferrell is better than both of them in the run game. In fact, Pro Football Focus named him as the 32nd best defensive end in the NFL heading into the season, ahead of Maxx Crosby and many other players. It’s hard to imagine that the Raiders are so low on him that they wouldn’t even have him suit up against the Ravens. He likely just wasn’t healthy enough to go and the team thought it better to not risk it.
Door Could Be Open for Ferrell to Make an Impact
Regardless of why the Raiders decided to sit him, Ferrell should be feeling the pressure to perform. Ngakoue got beat up against the Ravens and Gerald McCoy is out for the season. Las Vegas needs a player like Ferrell to step up, who can play inside and outside.
He should have the opportunity to make an impact this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They looked very impressive in a 23-16 win over the Buffalo Bills. If the Raiders hope to pull off their second upset in a row, they’ll need the defense to step up again. With Ngakoue banged up, the door could be open for Ferrell to reclaim some snaps. If he plays and makes little to no impact, the Raiders may not be holding onto him for much longer.