The Las Vegas Raiders had a great start to the season with a win over the Baltimore Ravens but things are already getting tough. The team has lost defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and starting right guard Denzelle Good for the season. The injury issues aren’t stopping there, unfortunately.
Starting running back Josh Jacobs has missed practice all week with toe and ankle injuries. Head coach Jon Gruden announced on Friday that Jacobs will not be playing on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s bad news for the Raiders as the Steelers have led the NFL in sacks in each of the last four seasons. Having a strong rushing attack would mitigate that threat.
Jacobs was clearly hobbled for much of the game against the Ravens so it’s not a surprise that he’s not ready to go on a short week. He’s been an elite running back for the Raiders when he’s on the field but has now missed games in each of his three seasons as a pro. He’ll need to get healthy soon if the team hopes to have a diverse offense. Kenyan Drake should see a lot of usage this week but Gruden did single out Royce Freeman as a player who will have a big role on Sunday.
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Yannick Ngakoue Ready to Go
Gruden dropped some really bad news when he announced that Jacobs won’t play. However, he did have one pleasant surprise. Starting defensive end Yannick Ngakoue had to leave Monday’s game early with a hamstring injury. Signs weren’t looking good that he’d be ready to go on a short week. Luckily, Gruden revealed that it looks like he’ll be ready to go on Sunday.
“He wants to win and he knows we have to have him to win,” Gruden said.
That’s big news for the Raiders as Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby formed a ferocious pass rush against the Ravens. He didn’t have a sack, but Ngakoue was responsible for six quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t nearly as Lamar Jackson, who the Raiders played last week. Having a strong pass rush would go a long way in pulling off a second upset in two weeks.
4 More Key Raiders Ruled Out
The bad news didn’t stop with Jacobs. The Raiders had to rule out four more players for the Steelers game on Sunday. Left guard Richie Incognito, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, safety Roderic Teamer and quarterback Marcus Mariota will not be playing.
Out of those four players, Teamer and Incognito were the only two who didn’t play in Week 1. With Good out for the season, missing Incognito for a second week is tough. As noted earlier, the Steelers may have the best pass rush in the NFL. Having a Pro Bowl-level offensive lineman like Incognito would be very helpful. Instead, they’ll be relying on second-year guard John Simpson. It could be a rough day for quarterback Derek Carr. He may have to rely on a lot of short passes to avoid the Steelers pass rush.