INDIANAPOLIS – The Raiders talked up J.J. Nelson all week, saying he would help an ailing receiver corps still reeling from the loss of Antonio Brown.
Not quite yet. The team’s starting Z receiver won’t play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts due to tightness in his leg during pregame warmups. He has dealt with an ankle injury since August.
That’s a significant blow, something that will thrust “Hard Knocks” star Keelan Doss into heavy rotation. The undrafted rookie hasn’t played much since re-joining the team, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities on Sunday. So will Trevor Davis, acquired in trade from the Green Bay Packers.
The Nelson sit down constitutes a surprise, leaving the Raiders will four receivers. Most of them are unheralded, creating considerable dropoff from position group expectations.
Benson Mayowa also was a surprise inactive. He was limited Thursday with a knee injury, but he did not receive an injury designation. That will hinder the pass rush, considering he was the team’s sack leader despite precious few reps doing that.
The Raiders also rushed to sign Dakota Allen off the L.A. Rams practice squad, but rendered him inactive with Vontaze Burfict and Nicholas Morrow healthy and able to play.
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The Raiders got a gift Sunday morning, however, with star receiver T.Y. Hilton unable to play with a quadriceps injury. That’s a big blow, though the Raiders must still contend with tight ends Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle and slow feature back Marlon Mack.