ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio wasn’t thrilled with his secondary following Sunday night’s 27-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins. He believes loose coverage hindered the pass rush, and poor tackling hurt the overall defensive performance.
That position group has been banged up, working without David Amerson (foot), and Karl Joseph (groin) isn’t 100 percent.
They had three healthy career corners available Sunday, far from the lineup expected this offseason.
Health has hurt Amerson throughout the year, and completely negated first-round cornerback Gareon Conley and second-round safety Obi Melifonwu.
Conley played two early games and a shin injury shut him down indefinitely a month ago. Melifonwu spent the season’s first half on injured reserve after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
The Raiders had big plans for both guys. Conley was going to be an every-down cornerback. Melifonwu was to help cover tight ends and running backs in sub packages.
“Those two guys are really talented,” Del Rio said in his Monday press conference. “They’re going to help our secondary, and our secondary needs some help. That would be welcome.”
They need it now. A true impact might not come this season. Melifonwu lost significant development time on IR and while dealing with a training-camp ankle issue.
Conley’s shin has been an ongoing issue since June. Del Rio hasn’t specified Conley’s exact ailment, but it certainly seems like it evolved into something worse than the Raiders originally thought.
Del Rio still has high hopes for Conley, even if he might not play again this year. The Raiders will determine his fate rather soon. An early shutdown would complete an unceremonious rookie year where his draft was shrouded by legal troubles that didn’t lead to an arrest or charge and injuries that kept him off the field.
“The first round pick, the guy is going to be a really good football player,” Del Rio said. “First, there was the drama surrounding the off-the-field stuff that ended up being what we thought, that didn’t amount to anything.
“There has been the unknown injury that he has had to deal with. We wanted to get to the bye week and take a look, so at some point we’ll take a look and make a determination that we’re good to go, or we’ll know that he’s going to need to go down. That decision is approaching.”