Raiders

Edwards Jr 'foaming at the mouth' to return to Raiders lineup

Edwards Jr 'foaming at the mouth' to return to Raiders lineup

ALAMEDA – Mario Edwards Jr. hasn’t played football in a long, long time. His last go round came back on Aug. 12, during the Raiders’ preseason opener at Arizona.

He suffered a hip injury and hasn’t been back since. That’s nearly four months now, too long a drought for the young, versatile defensive lineman.

That’s why Monday meant so much. It was just a walk-through practice, nothing too physical, but the act of practicing meant something special after his extended absence.

“It felt good just to get out there with those guys,” Edwards Jr. said Monday evening. “My last time with them was against the Cardinals in the preseason. Even just to get out there in a practice and enjoy the camaraderie definitely was nice.”

Edwards Jr.’s rehab has been slower than originally expected, which has kept him on injured reserve well after he was eligible to practice in Week 7 and play in Week 9. Edwards Jr. wanted to make sure his hip, which he called “a freaky thing,” healed right and was free of setbacks.

While he took a mature approach to his rehab, Sundays proved hard to bear. Watching Raiders games were difficult, even with the team sitting pretty at 10-2 after Sunday’s victory over Buffalo.

That was especially true when the Raiders came back to beat the Carolina Panthers. Defense sealed that victory, with Khalil Mack’s strip sack of Cam Newton and the recovery of his own forced fumble. That proved too much to take. Edwards Jr. started itching to get back on the field.

Now that he’s ever so close to a return, Edwards Jr. has let himself ponder lining up with Mack and Bruce Irvin on third and long, ready to get after the quarterback.

“I’ve been dreaming of that, especially after watching Mack strip Cam and things like that,” Edwards Jr. said. “I just wanted to be out there and be a part of it. I’ve been foaming at the mouth ever since then.”

Edwards Jr. must’ve known he was close to getting back on the field. He was running well on the treadmill prior to that game, and was out on the field shortly after the Panthers win.

The Raiders hope Edwards Jr. can be back in time to play the Chargers in San Diego on Dec. 18. That would give him three regular-season games to ramp up and be fully immersed in the defense should the Raiders make the postseason.

Edwards Jr., however, doesn’t have a set timetable to return.

“I’m a little different, so I don’t really know,” Edwards Jr. said. “We don’t have a date on it. It’s more about how I’m feeling each day and how I’m healing.”

Edwards Jr. called his absence bittersweet – he hasn’t played a regular season game since Dec. 20, when he suffered a neck injury versus Green Bay – but remains forward thinking even missing the season to this point.

“It sucked, but everything happened for a reason,” Edwards Jr. said. “I’m healing up great, and I’m looking forward to coming back and playing.”

Brandon LaFell out for Raiders' 2018 season with torn Achilles tendon

Brandon LaFell out for Raiders' 2018 season with torn Achilles tendon

Brandon LaFell’s season is over, and now the Raiders need another wide receiver.

Because of course they do.

LaFell tore an Achilles tendon during Sunday’s 23-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals, a team source told NBC Sports California’s Scott Bair, but an MRI is needed to confirm that diagnosis.

LaFell was seen in the Raiders’ locker room at Arizona’s State Farm Stadium in a walking boot.

Even before LaFell’s season-ending injury, the Raiders were digging deep for receivers during this lost season. Marcell Ateman and Saeed Blacknall both made their NFL debuts Sunday, and although they both performed well, the Raiders will need depth at the position, especially if Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson can’t play because of their knee injuries. Both veterans missed the game in Arizona.

So, who’s available in Week 11 of an NFL season? The Raiders will have to find out.

Then again, Ateman ended up leading the Raiders with four catches for 50 yards -- including a big grab on their game-winning drive -- so maybe they’ll want to see what they have in him and Blacknall.

Raiders report card: Grading offense, defense in win over Cardinals

Raiders report card: Grading offense, defense in win over Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Raiders lost five straight by at least 14 points heading into Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

They snapped that streak, and not just with a close loss.

The Raiders actually won. For real.

Derek Carr orchestrated his 15th career fourth-quarter comeback to help the Raiders beat the Cardinals 23-21 at State Farm Stadium.

We typically hand out Fs by the bushel in this space, but not tonight, my friends. Not tonight.

The Raiders were far from perfect, but still did several things well in this win. Here’s the report card from the Valley of the Sun.

[BAIR: Raiders wanted to win for fans impacted by California wildfires]

Rushing offense

The Raiders were committed to the run against the Cardinals, and it paid off in spades. Running backs Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Doug Martin rushed 33 times for 152 yards. That’s 4.6 yards per carry, a strong effort that gave the Raiders a balanced offense for once.

The offensive line opened holes and the backs burst right through them to keep the offense moving. Good job all around by the ground game.

Grade: A

Passing offense

Derek Carr didn’t pile up stats, but he completed passes at critical times. That was especially true on the game-winning field goal drive. He worked with the bottom of the depth chart, but still made plays with depth receivers Marcell Ateman and Seth Roberts, as well as Jared Cook.

The pass protection was spotty at best, and the entire operation needs to be cleaner. But, these guys got the job done when it counted Sunday.

Grade: B-minus

Rushing defense

After a terrible first drive, the Raiders did a solid job corralling star Cardinals running back David Johnson. All it takes, however, is one bad play to ruin a day. That came on a 55-yard run by Johnson that set up a go-ahead score with five minutes left.

In all, the Raiders allowed 154 yards on 31 carries, which will get you beat in most scenarios. Just not Sunday. 

Grade: D

Pass defense

The Raiders secondary delivered on Sunday with interceptions from defensive backs Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph. Both takeaways created great field position and resulted in Raiders touchdowns.

Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen was awful, and completed only 9-of-20 passes for 136 yards thanks to errant throws and some solid coverage from the Raiders secondary.

Grade: A-minus

Special teams

Daniel Carlson nailed the first game-winning field goal of his career as time expired. That’s all you need to get an ‘A.’

The rookie from Auburn is coming on strong the past few weeks. He could be a long-term answer at kicker if he keeps this up.

Grade: A

Overall

A cynic would say the Raiders blew it by winning, hurting their draft position in an already lost season. That’s not how the players and coaches think. They wanted to win and were able to.

It might not happen much the rest of the year, so they have to bask in this victory.

Grade: A