Nicholas Morrow

Raiders made case in support of linebacker Vontaze Burfict's appeal

Raiders made case in support of linebacker Vontaze Burfict's appeal

ALAMEDA – Raiders middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict is currently serving a 12-game suspension for an illegal hit in a Week 4 victory over Indianapolis.

It was essentially a ban for the rest of the 2019 season, an unprecedented ban for an on-field act due more for his history and reputation for vicious and unnecessary hits as the hit against Colts tight end Jack Doyle itself.

Burfict appealed that decision in a Tuesday teleconference that including Burfict, his camp and representatives from the league and the NFL Players Association.

A decision will come from an independent arbitrator, though there’s no exact timetable for a formal ruling on the appeal.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden address the matter on Tuesday, and said the Silver and Black got a chance to support Burfict’s appeal. They consider the ban excessive, and believe Burfict has a chance to return to the team.

“Yes. We have tried to do that. We have tried to make our case,” Gruden said in his weekly press conference. “I respect the league’s position. They have a tough job. At the same time, we have a lot of confidence that they’ll do what’s right. We want Burfict back. He has already been punished, and we hope he can return to playing soon.”

The Raiders have already played one game without Burfict. They beat Chicago 24-21 on Sunday in London, and received quality contributions from Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow playing on the weak side and in the middle, respectively.

[RELATED: Will Jay Gruden join Raiders after being fired by Redskins?]

“You have to give Nick Morrow and Tahir Whitehead a lot of credit,” Gruden said. “They played great. That doesn’t take away from the fact that we miss Vontaze and his leadership, experience and playmaking ability. Nick and Tahir didn’t come off the field. Morrow had an interception and Whitehead did a great job running the show. Those guys deserve credit.”

The team is razor-thin at that spot, so Whitehead and Morrow were the only linebackers to play a defensive snap in this game. The Raiders used extra defensive backs in the run game, which was effective all night against the Bears.

Raiders snap count: Foster Moreau shines in statement win vs. Bears

Raiders snap count: Foster Moreau shines in statement win vs. Bears

Early on this season, Raiders coach Jon Gruden continually has praised his tight ends group, and for good reason. They've had to play more than was expected with the offense being reshaped on the fly and have performed admirably both in the run and pass game.

With Antonio Brown's unexpected departure before the season began, Gruden has changed the Raiders' plan of attack to feature a heavy run game out of two and three-tight end sets to make up for Oakland's lack of talent on the outside. Darren Waller has been the breakout star of the season for the Silver and Black, but rookie tight end Foster Moreau has starred in the last two weeks. 

The fourth-round draft pick caught a massive touchdown in the Raiders' Week 4 win over the Colts, and he was quarterback Derek Carr's favored weapon in Week 5, catching four passes for 46 yards on five targets, including two catches for 39 yards on the Raiders' 97-yard game-winning drive to beat the Bears 24-21.

With 2:09 remaining and the Raiders trailing 21-17, Carr hit Moreau for 16 yards down to the Bears' 2-yard line, and fellow rookie Josh Jacobs did the rest, capping the drive with a touchdown leap to give the Oakland a win in London.

Moreau, Jacobs and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow each made huge plays on the Raiders' statement drive to beat the Bears, showing all the preseason talk about the rookie class' talent and maturity wasn't unsubstantiated smoke. 

"I think we've been talking about our young players since they've been here," Gruden said after the win. "The kind of effort that they provide and the smartness that they play with  -- these are smart guys that are doing a lot of different things, playing tough positions. You know, Foster Moreau at the point of attack, pass protecting, catching balls down the field. I can't say enough about the rookies."

[RELATED: Raiders earn respect in 'statement wins' vs. Colts, Bears]

On the other side of the ball, linebacker Nicholas Morrow filled in for the suspended Vontaze Burfict and performed well. Rookie edge rusher Maxx Crosby saw his playing time increase due to Clelin Ferrell's concussion, and he notched his first career sack in the win over the Bears.

Offense

Total offensive snaps: 73

Quarterback – Derek Carr 73

Running back – Josh Jacobs 50, Alec Ingold 16, DeAndre Washington 13, Jalen Richard 11

Wide receiver – Trevor Davis 55, Hunter Renfrow 42, Keelan Doss 40, Marcell Ateman 28

Tight end – Darren Waller 57, Foster Moreau 45, Derek Carrier 5

Offensive line – Richie Incognito 73, Kolton Miller 73, Rodney Hudson 73, Trent Brown 73, Denzelle Good 73, David Sharpe 3

Defense

Total defensive snaps: 58

Defensive line – Maxx Crosby 57, Benson Mayowa 32, Johnathan Hankins 30, Maurice Hurst 29, Josh Mauro 26, P.J. Hall 25, Arden Key 22, Corey Liuget 8

Linebacker – Tahir Whitehead 58, Nicholas Morrow 56

Defensive back – Erik Harris 58, Karl Joseph 58, Gareon Conley 88, Lamarcus Joyner 58, Daryl Worley 56, Trayvon Mullen 7

Special teams

Kyle Wilber 24, Derek Carrier 22, Keisean Nixon 21, Harris 19, Moreau 17, Curtis Riley 17, Crosby 15, Dallin Leavitt 14, Morrow 13, Ingold 13, Trent Sieg 10, A.J. Cole 10, Daniel Carlson 9, Jason Phillips 9, Dakota Allen 8, Joseph 8, Worley 8, Davis 7, Whitehead 6, Hurst 6, Key 6, Mullen 6, Andre James 4, Sharpe 4, Washington 4, Brown 4, Miller 4, Good 4, Incognito 4, Renfrow 3, Conley 3, Mayowa 3, Hankins 3

Raiders injury report: Linebacker health 'still sketchy,' but improved

burfictusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Raiders injury report: Linebacker health 'still sketchy,' but improved

ALAMEDA – The Raiders fortified their linebacker corps this week after getting three members hurt in a Week 3 loss to Minnesota.

New guy Dakota Allen is adjusting to a new scheme and environment and practice squad promotion Justin Phillips is a work in progress, so the Raiders would obviously prefer to keep the top options on the field Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s certainly possible after Vontaze Burfict (elbow/shoulder/knee) and Nicholas Morrow (ankle) practiced each day this week. Both guys went from limited practice to full participation Friday and formally were taken off Friday’s injury report.

They did not receive a designation, meaning they’re healthy enough to play. Head coach Jon Gruden said the outlook isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than at the start of this practice week.

“Still sketchy, but I’m encouraged,” Gruden said. “Burfict’s practice looked better today. Morrow practiced, so we are encouraged by that.”

Allen still should see action, even with the regulars healthy enough to go. The Raiders need depth at linebacker, especially with so many dealing with ailments.

Right tackle Trent Brown is questionable but is expected to play. Right guard Jordan Devey’s status is up in the air due to a groin injury, though Denzelle Good will step in if he can’t go.

Defensive tackle Corey Liuget will remain a last-minute decision heading into Sunday. He’s still waiting to make his debut after signing late in the preseason and dealing with a knee injury in recent weeks.

“You got to be smart, you just don’t want to bring the guy and put him out there before he’s ready,” Gruden said. “He’s had now two and a half, three weeks to learn the system and get himself ready. And we’ll meet with him and the trainers on the airplane and we’ll see where he is, but we surely could use him inside.”

[RELATED: Williams moving more to enhance playmaking opportunity]

The Colts were dealt some significant blows on the injury front. Linebacker Darius Leonard was ruled out with concussion-like symptoms, and star receiver T.Y. Hilton formally is doubtful with a quadriceps injury aggravated in Week 3.

INJURY REPORT

RAIDERS
Out
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)
WR Dwayne Harris (ankle)

Questionable
RT Trent Brown (knee)
OG Jordan Devey (groin)

COLTS
Out
S Malik Hooker (knee)
LB Darius Leonard (concussion)
DE Jabaal Sheard (knee)

Doubtful
WR T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps)

Questionable
CB Pierre Desir (hamstring)
DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (neck)
DE Jabaal Sheard (knee)