The injuries are piling up for the Las Vegas Raiders and it’s starting to seriously affect their depth. Even if the defense was completely healthy, it’s doubtful they’d be that much better right now. A big problem has been the team’s inability to get after opposing quarterbacks.
In an effort to perhaps give the defensive line some more juice, the Raiders have signed defensive end Breeland Speaks to the practice squad.
Speaks was a second-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018. He was cut by the team after only two seasons because they had a lot of depth at the position. Speaks played in 16 games during his rookie campaign but missed all of 2019 with an injury. He’s only notched 1.5 sacks in his career but there’s a reason he was a second-round pick. Perhaps he can recapture the magic that led to the Chiefs taking him in the draft. Plus, Speaks is a little extra valuable because the Raiders are hosting Kansas City in Week 5.
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Dallin Leavitt Returns to the Roster
The Raiders also announced that they are promoting safety Dallin Leavitt to the active roster. The young defensive back was recently cut to make room for Nevin Lawson, who was coming off of suspension. The team was quick to bring Leavitt back to the practice squad.
He spent almost the entirety of the 2019 season on the active roster due to Johnathan Abram‘s injury. Abram is dinged up again so the decision to promote Leavitt is likely to serve as a security blanket in case the former first-rounder misses any time. Leavitt isn’t Earl Thomas but he’s very familiar with the system and is a solid depth option for the team.
Things Looking Good for Nick Kwiatkoski
While the Raiders have been brutalized with injuries lately, not everything has been bad news. Head coach Jon Gruden said on Friday that there’s a “good chance” that starting middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski will be back for Sunday’s game versus the Buffalo Bills.
That should give the Raiders a big boost in run defense as they’ve struggled in that area quite a bit. The team is clearly excited he’s been back at practice.
“It’s huge because Nick’s a really good communicator,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Thursday. “This guy came in and he’s a new guy and he’s really picked up our system. It’s almost like he’s been in the system for three or four years like some of the guys I’ve been accustomed to being around. He’s a vocal leader. He sees a lot on the field as far as how we’re set up, getting in and out of calls. He’s a very stout run defender. He’s good in the pass. He’ll be a big part in the middle of our defense if he’s able to go this week.”
Kwiatkoski was the first player the Raiders signed in free agency during the offseason. They need him on the field. Having him back should elevate those around him.