Del Rio: Neiron Ball could end up on injured reserve


Del Rio: Neiron Ball could end up on injured reserve

ALAMEDA -- Raiders rookie linebacker Neiron Ball has missed six straight games with a knee injury, a longer absence than the team originally expected. Even after all this time, progress isn’t coming quickly enough to assure his return this season.

There are just four regular season games remaining, which might not be enough time to get the fifth-round selection back in action.

Head coach Jack Del Rio said during his Monday press conference that Ball is a strong candidate for season-ending injured reserve.

“It will be tough for him to make it back,” Del Rio said. “We’ll keep trying (to rehab) and see where it goes. We have a month left and we were hopeful we’d have him back by now. It doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case.

“At some point here, we’re going to have to make a decision.”

That decision is whether to end Ball’s season for good. That isn’t ideal for a coaching staff looking to provide experience for young talent as the regular season winds down. The Raiders don’t have a great shot at the playoffs after Sunday’s home loss to Kansas City, but those games can be spent nurturing players toward a brighter future.

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Ball played well before getting hurt. He was always solid on special teams, but did well as a coverage linebacker when given the opportunity. That time was brief, as he got hurt shortly after his defensive role was expanded.

Allen day-to-day: Raiders safety Nate Allen reinjured the knee that put him on short-term injured reserve earlier this season. This time, the outlook isn’t quite so bad. Del Rio considered Allen day-to-day after tests from earlier Monday were good.

“The tests came back negative, so there’s nothing major going on,” Del Rio said. “He’ll be day-to-day in terms of how sore that is with that injury.”


New Raiders receiver Trevor Davis working hard to be ready vs. Vikings

New Raiders receiver Trevor Davis working hard to be ready vs. Vikings

ALAMEDA – Trevor Davis went to Cal and is from Martinez, but hasn’t spent time at home since the Raiders traded for him Wednesday afternoon.

He went straight from Green Bay to the Silver and Black’s training complex, immediately immersing himself in the Raiders' schemes.

He doesn’t have much time, after all, to get ready for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. That’s why this trade isn’t a homecoming quite yet.

“I’m locked in at the hotel, in my playbook the whole time,” Davis said. “Going back and forth [to Martinez] is too far for me.”

The Raiders need Davis to get adjusted quickly, with return man/reserve receiver Dwayne Harris likely out a stretch with an ankle injury. He could take on Harris’ role on the team right away.

Harris is a return man first. While getting up to speed offensively by Sunday may be tough, it’s realistic to think Davis could return right away.

“It’s much more simplistic when comparing special teams to offense, so it’s easier to plug yourself into that,” Davis said. “That’s why I might be more ready to hop in there on special teams. Hopefully I’m involved in both soon, but I’m preparing to be ready for anything.”

Return help is a given for Davis, but the Raiders need receiving depth pretty badly. Ryan Grant hasn’t produced early on, J.J. Nelson has dealt with an ankle injury and Keelan Doss is a work in progress.

Davis can certainly help stretch the field with pure speed, something sorely needed in the pattern. He’s trying to use each moment to overcome the challenges of integrating to a new team during the season, including enlisting former Packer and current Raiders backup quarterback DeShone Kizer to tutor him in this scheme.

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Davis admitted he never saw the move coming, but hopes to make the most of his time back home.

“You have to come in and be ready for anything,” Davis said. “The NFL is like that. Everything can change in a blink of an eye. I was all the way across the country 24 hours ago. Now I’m here, and I need to put my best foot forward and show these coaches what I can do.”

Raiders plan to expand Josh Jacobs' role in passing game moving forward

Raiders plan to expand Josh Jacobs' role in passing game moving forward

ALAMEDA -- Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is off to a strong start. His snap counts suggest he’s the Silver and Black’s clear-cut feature back, taking most of the carries through two games.

He’s worthy of them, having churned out 184 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. A total of 11 carries have resulted in first downs, per analytics site Pro Football Focus, with four rushes of 10-plus yards. That includes a 51-yarder through the right side and down the boundary on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jacobs has done everything well thus far, though there’s one thing he hasn’t been asked to do much.

Jacobs has only been targeted once in the passing game despite 22 total snaps as a receiver, and he caught it and ran for a 28-yard pickup. The Alabama product simply hasn't been out on obvious passing downs, either.

Secondary backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington have only been targeted five times for 28 yards on four receptions.

Jacobs has played 68 snaps from the backfield while Washington and Richard have 43 combined, with a significant portion of those snaps given while Jacobs was getting an IV versus Kansas City.

Jacobs' light receiving load has raised some eyebrows, considering his prowess catching passes out of the backfield.

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There’s some thought that the team might be saving that option for an important moment down the line. The Raiders, however, clearly want to unleash their first-round draft pick’s full potential.

“It’s still early in the season, early in the process,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “We’re happy with Josh Jacobs and the way he’s running the football. When we have put the ball in his hands, he has produced. We’ll look to expand his role as well.”