ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley is arguably the Raiders’ most talented cornerback. This year’s No. 24 overall pick is smooth in coverage technique and instinctive making plays on the ball. He runs like a gazelle, with confidence to spare.
In short, he’s a natural.
Raiders fans haven’t seen that much. Conley missed training camp, all four exhibitions and the regular-season opener with a shin injury suffered in a June minicamp. His NFL debut came in Week 2, and he looked good. Conley appeared again the next week, and looked slow. Conley hasn’t played since.
He was set to be the slot cornerback at least. More likely, especially how this season’s played out, Conley would’ve been an every-down guy.
“There's no question we miss him,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “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.”
It’s uncertain when it’ll restart. That could happen later this year, or get pushed back to 2018. We’ll know earlier next week.
This shin injury has taken far longer than expected to heal, from the original injury and the setback that has kept him from playing since Sept. 24 and practicing since Oct. 6.
“People’s bodies are different,” McKenzie said. “When you have those types of injuries, you wait and see if it can heal and feel better and get well enough to play. He was feeling better early in the season, and then he had a setback. We’re trying to give it some time to calm down and to see if he can play.”
Conley’s playing prospects are based on what he’s able to do next week. If he can get back to practice, Conley will try and work his way back into the mix. If he’s still not ready, the Raiders will place him on season-ending injured reserve.
“Right now, we’ll see what happens after we come back from the weekend,” McKenzie said. “We’ll see if we can do anything early in the week. We’ll make our determination from there.
“…If he can’t go, he can’t go. Then we’ll just have to move on, but we’re going to give him every opportunity to see if he can do it.”