The Las Vegas Raiders are hitting a very important point of their season. They are 6-5 and still in the playoff race but are coming off two straight losses. The upcoming game against the New York Jets could make or break the season. Even if they pull off that win, things are still going to be tricky for the silver and black.
The Raiders have been ravaged by injuries this year and it doesn’t look like things are getting better. Head coach Jon Gruden announced that a starter and team captain is headed to the injured reserve.
“[Maliek Collins] is hurt. Unfortunately, he’s had some lingering problems and he’s going to be on short-term IR,” Gruden said Wednesday.
This news means that Collins will be out for at least three weeks. While he hasn’t had a good season, he’s still one of the starters, and losing him really hurts the team’s depth. There’s also a chance Maurice Hurst misses time, which would really put the team in a bind. It’s obvious that Gruden is starting to worry about the depth on his defensive line.
“Maurice Hurst wasn’t practicing today either, so we’ll have to find some help from someplace,” Gruden said. “If you know somebody, call me.”
Hurst has been battling injury for much of the season so there’s a possibility that Johnathan Hankins and Daniel Ross are the only true defensive tackles the Raiders have on their active roster on Sunday.
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Raiders Have Players Who Can Move Inside
Things are getting tough for the Raiders but they do have a number of guys who can play on the interior of the defensive line. Clelin Ferrell appears to be on track to come back after missing a couple of games due to COVID-19. The team has had him play inside quite a bit since he joined the team. He’ll probably get a lot of work at defensive tackle this week if Hurst can’t go.
David Irving is another defensive end who has played some tackle. He’s on the practice squad right now but the Raiders would be wise to promote him to the active roster this week. It remains to be seen if he can regain his Dallas Cowboys form but his length could be an asset in the middle. Regardless of who is on the roster, the Raiders should look to add another piece while Collins is out.
Potential Free Agent Options
It’s not ideal to start signing new players for important roles this late in the season but the Raiders might not have a choice. Luckily, there are some interesting options on the open market. Marcell Dareus is a former All-Pro who is without a team right now. He’s far removed from his days as a dominant interior force but he’s a solid run stuffer with a lot of experience. He’s only 30 so he should still have some juice left in the tank.
Dontari Poe is another guy available who has been an All-Pro in the past. He was cut by the Cowboys earlier in the season but could join the Raiders for a brief stint. He doesn’t bring a ton of pass rush but he’s a good run stopper. There aren’t going to be any perfect fits this late in the season but Las Vegas should at least try to add some depth while Collins is out.
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