Injury report: Watson returns to Raiders practice after long layoff

Injury report: Watson returns to Raiders practice after long layoff

ALAMEDA – Latavius Murray’s return was the primary focus of Wednesday’s Raiders practice. The Pro Bowl running back drew the camera’s eye during portions open to the media, as onlookers watched him run and cut for the first time since being diagnosed with turf toe after a Week 4 win at Baltimore.

Lost in the shuffle was hulking right tackle Menelik Watson getting back to work after a three-week layoff with a calf strain.

It’s uncertain how if he’s ready to reclaim his starting spot along the offensive line, one he earned with a solid preseason, in time for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. He was limited on Wednesday.

Murray was also limited in his return.

The Raiders have used five players at right tackle, a spot hit heavy by an injury plague. They’ve started three different players there already, though Austin Howard remains healthy after starting last week – he missed time with an ankle injury – and is the option if Watson isn’t ready to play.

Rookie offensive tackle Vadal Alexander remains out with an ankle injury he suffered in Week 5, after making his second start on the right side.

Special teams player Brynden Trawick missed practice with a shoulder injury.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio hoped that defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr., on injured reserve with a hip injury, would soon be ready for side work. He did not start running during Wednesday's portion of practice open to the press. He is now eligible to practice, and is first eligible to play in Week 9 against Denver. 

Raiders participation report
Did not practice:
Vadal Alexander (ankle), S Brynden Trawick (shoulder)
Limited participation: Latavius Murray (toe), OT Menelik Watson (calf), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), OT Matt McCants (knee), C Rodney Hudson (knee), OG Gabe Jackson (knee) Jon Feliciano (calf)

Jaguars participation report
Did not practice:
DT Abry Jones (hamstring), RT Jeremey Parnell (hip)
Limited participation: CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), S Johnathan Cyprien (calf), C Brandon Linder (foot), OT Kelvin Beachum (knee), DT Jared Odrick (hip), TE Neal Sterling (foot), WR Allen Hurns (shoulder)
Full participation: WR Rashad Greene (Achilles), RB Cory Grant (toe), S Tashaun Gipson (knee)

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”

Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini


Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini

The Raiders need help at right tackle, the lone vacancy along their offensive line. They signed a veteran presence on Thursday afternoon, adding 32-year old Breno Giacomini as the frontrunner to join the starting five.

He has 86 starts in 94 career games, and has been a full-time starter three of the last four years. Giacomini spent 2017 in Houston and the previous three seasons with the New York Jets.

He was a Seattle Seahawk before that, working with Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable for three of his four years there. Cable gave Giacomini his first chance to start in the second half of 2011, and held the post through 2012.

The bond between the two is clearly strong, considering what Giacomini tweeted shortly after Cable got fired in Seattle.

Coach and player will reunite, hoping to provide steadiness on the right side of the Raiders offensive line.

He’ll compete for a starting spot with Vadal Alexander, second-year pros David Sharpe and Jylan Ware and possibly a drafted player. Giacomini should be considered the favorite unless the Raiders use an early pick on an offensive lineman.

Giacomini has plenty of starts, but his Pro Football Focus numbers aren’t pretty. The analytics says he allowed nine sacks, eight quarterback hits and 64 pressures with Houston last year. He had some decent years under Cable, and a return to that form might push him into the starting lineup for good. Time will tell on that front.