One of the most exciting young players for the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason has been Nicholas Morrow. He’s been with the team since 2017 but he finally started to come into his own last season. He was arguably the team’s best linebacker last year with three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Heading into this offseason, it looked like he was going to earn a starting spot at middle linebacker for the regular season. Unfortunately, it’s unclear when he might make his regular-season debut. Morrow hurt his foot last week during a joint practice with the Los Angeles Rams. It appears that it was no small injury.
Second-year linebacker Javin White is also dealing with an injury that he sustained during the Raiders’ preseason game against the Rams. Head coach Jon Gruden is not optimistic that either will return soon.
“They’re both going to be out for a while,” Gruden said Wednesday. “Looks like Morrow will be out a little bit longer than White. So that’s unfortunate but we’ll have to continue to develop our young linebackers and perhaps find another.”
Those aren’t encouraging words from the coach. There doesn’t appear to be a timeline for either guy to return but it’s sounding possible they both miss regular-season time. White wasn’t a lock to make the roster but Morrow being out is a significant blow to the defense.
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Gruden Hoping Young LBs Step Up
With injuries piling up, the Raiders are starting to get thin at linebacker. Not only are White and Morrow hurt, but Nick Kwiatkoski and Darron Lee are also banged up. The team may need to look to free agency to make a move but they could also rely on some young players. Divine Deablo was drafted in the third round of this year’s draft as a linebacker but played safety in college. He’s been hurt a lot of the offseason so it’s unclear how his position transition is going.
Tanner Muse was in a similar position as Deablo last year and could be an option for the Raiders if Morrow is out for multiple weeks. Gruden is hoping to see those two step up.
“Hopefully, they rise to the occasion,” Gruden said of Deablo and Muse. “People have done it before in this league and Raiders have done it before so we’ll see what happens.
It’s a lot to ask Deablo to be ready for a big role at linebacker right now but Muse doesn’t have any excuses. This is a great chance for him to earn serious playing time.
Who Could Raiders Target in Free Agency?
Even if Deablo and Muse look good, the Raiders should still consider adding a veteran free agent. Luckily for them, there are still some good options available. In fact, the team has already worked out two experienced starters in Mark Barron and K.J. Wright.
Wright is the bigger name and likely more expensive but would be a great replacement for Morrow. Barron missed all of last season with an injury but is a solid player who should be a cheaper option. The Raiders can’t go wrong with either.
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