The Las Vegas Raiders can’t catch a break this year. They’ve been brutalized with injuries all season and have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL through the first half. In Week 5, they have to head to Kansas City to face off against their archrival and it looks like they could be without one of their few promising defenders. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, defensive tackle Maurice Hurst is being put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Now, the team hasn’t addressed the report yet so this could mean a number of things. It could mean Hurst came into close contact with somebody who tested positive for COVID-19 or it could be a false positive. Regardless, it’s not a great sign for a struggling defense, especially since defensive tackle Daniel Ross was just recently put on injured reserve.
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Hurst Among Highest-Graded DTs in NFL
It’s no secret that the Raiders’ defensive line has been disappointing this season. The team is 31st in the NFL in sacks and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. While most of the players on the Raiders defensive line haven’t been impressive this year, Hurst has been a standout. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s the fourth highest-graded defensive tackles in the entire NFL.
Hurst has always been a PFF darling but the Raiders don’t seem completely sold on him. Despite easily outplaying free agent signee Maliek Collins, Hurst has been a backup all season. For whatever reason, the coaches don’t trust him to take on starting duties full time. Now that he’s headed to the COVID-19 list, his chances of starting soon are probably diminished. However, if Collins continues to struggle, the Raiders would be wise to insert Hurst into the starting lineup once he’s healthy.
Raiders Have Been Scrutinized for COVID-19 Violations
The Raiders have been among the teams that have been the most heavily scrutinized for their COVID-19 procedures. Head coach Jon Gruden has already been fined for not keeping his mask on during games and a number of players were fined for briefly not wearing masks at a fundraiser, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
“I’m well aware of that, yes,” Gruden said Monday. “And I know our players are going to handle that individually and I know they regret any harm they may have caused, and they’re very sensitive about it and we’ll handle it the right way.”
While quarterback Derek Carr acknowledged that the players were in the wrong for not wearing a mask, Gruden believes that the team is doing a good job.
“Again, I’m going to reiterate that I’m really proud of our players and our staff and the job that we’ve done battling this virus,” Gruden said, “and it’ll continue.”
Prior to Hurst landing on the COVID-19 list, the Raiders haven’t had any scares surrounding the virus since the season started. The hope will be that they were able to quarantine Hurst before he passed it on to his teammates.