The Raiders believed cornerback Gareon Conley would make an instant impact. The No. 24 overall pick wowed during the offseason program, showing great agility, change of direction and ball skills.
And, of course, the dude's got quicks.
A June shin injury made that impossible. He missed training camp and the entire preseason slate. He played in Week 2 suffered a setback in Week 3. He last played then and last practiced Oct. 6.
Conley was shut down indefinitely, and the Raiders waited and waited and waited some more for him to get right. They gave up hope on Monday, placing the Ohio State product on injured reserve.
Defensive Tackle Darius Latham was activated in a corresponding move, following a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
That doesn’t satisfy the secondary’s need for reinforcements. David Amerson’s expected to return from a foot injury will help some. The Raiders should probably sign someone else. Sean Smith, Dexter McDonald and TJ Carrie have worked without a safety net the past two weeks, as the team’s only healthy cornerbacks.
That’s a dicey way to play, especially with New England next on the schedule.
Signing someone off the street won’t have the impact a healthy Conley could’ve, but that never came to pass. Rest and rehab didn’t help an ailing shin that was obviously more than shin splints. NFL Network reports that Conley has medical options, and that surgery is likely.
The Raiders planned on having him play in the slot at least, though he likely would’ve been an every-down contributor in a lackluster secondary.
“There's no question we miss him,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said Friday, before the IR move. “He came in hitting the ground running. We felt really good about him during the offseason until he got kicked. That’s the way it is. He’s a good football player and he’ll have a great career.”
The Raiders will likely go with Amerson and Carrie on the outside, with Smith as a third cornerback in passing situations. Carrie has been moving to the slot in those situations. Dexter McDonald should become a fourth cornerback, especially after Smith has played better in recent weeks.