Raiders

Martavis Bryant to injured reserve part of Raiders' recent roster moves

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USATSI

Martavis Bryant to injured reserve part of Raiders' recent roster moves

ALAMEDA – Jon Gruden has plays designed to maximize Martavis Bryant’s ideal size and speed. The Raiders head coach lamented the fact they were growing stable with his most athletic receiver on the shelf.

The Raiders clearly hoped to get Bryant back down the stretch and use those plays again. Now they’re going to expire, maybe never revived again.

Bryant was placed on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday with a PCL injury that wasn’t going to get right before the season ended.

That was part of a significant roster shuffle as we head into the season’s final four games, with several transactions including another big-name move we’ll get to below.

Let’s stay on Bryant for now. That could be the last of him in a Raiders uniform. He’ll hit unrestricted free agency this spring, and could well sign with another team after an odd experience in the East Bay.

The Raiders traded a third-round pick for him on draft day, only to cut him just before the regular season began. Some outlets reported that Bryant could be suspended again for violating terms of his reinstatement – he was banned for a year as a repeat violator of the NFL’s substance abuse policy – but that never came to pass.

Bryant was re-signed on Sept. 12, heading into Week 2, but never became a reliable target in Gruden’s scheme. Gruden criticized Bryant frequently in the preseason, mostly for struggling to learn several receiver positions. Gruden also dubbed him the “white tiger” for majesty that was rarely visible after he missed so much practice time battling migraine headaches.

The Raiders were hopeful he would return late this year, but ultimately wasn’t ready to do so.

He wanted to use 2018 as a springboard to a bigger, long-term contract after three tumultuous seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but wasn’t able to do that. Injury, ineffectiveness and little use when healthy wasted this season and leaves Bryant still trying to realize vast potential.

Bryant wasn’t the only Raider moved to IR on Wednesday. Shilique Calhoun was also sent there with a neck injury.

So was three-time captain Reggie Nelson. The 35-year old safety struggled in pass coverage this year, and gradually lost snaps to Karl Joseph as the season went on, was shelved this season with a shoulder injury suffered against Kansas City. It's possible that, like Bryant, Nelson has played his final game in silver and black. 

Nelson had seven interceptions over three seasons, and made the Pro Bowl as a Raider after the 2016 season. He had an uneven 2017, and was somewhat surprising that he returned this year. He was reunited with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, whom Nelson worked for in Cincinnati. 

The Raiders currently have three safeties remaining on the roster in Joseph, Marcus Gilchrist and Erik Harris, though last week's signing Montrel Meander is a cornerback with experience at safety. 

 

The team is swapping talent to account for recent injuries, and try out new players to see if they can compete for a spot on next year’s squad.

Here’s a recap of all the Raiders roster moves over the past few days:

Added
OL Denzelle Good
DE Damonte Moore
CB Bene Benwikiere
RB C.J. Anderson
DE Kony Ealy

Dropped
OL Ian Silberman (waived)
DE Fadol Brown (waived)
DE Shilique Calhoun (IR)
WR Martavis Bryant (IR)
S Reggie Nelson (IR)

Pro Bowl: Raiders shut out as Jared Cook and Rodney Hudson snubbed

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AP

Pro Bowl: Raiders shut out as Jared Cook and Rodney Hudson snubbed

Jared Cook has been excellent this season. The Raiders tight end has set career highs in all major statistical categories, and ranks near the NFL’s best in catches, yards and touchdowns at his position.

The Raiders have campaigned for Cook to make his first Pro Bowl roster, with coach Jon Gruden as his biggest champion.

“If he doesn’t make the Pro Bowl,” Gruden said, “there should be an investigation.”

It’s apparently time to assign a special prosecutor. Cook was left off the original Pro Bowl roster, which was announced on Tuesday evening. Center Rodney Hudson might’ve been even more deserving – he hasn’t allowed a sack all season -- but he didn't make it, either.

Cook and Hudson would qualify as snubs on a good team, but it’s hard to fault voting fans, coaches and players for failing to recognize players on a really bad team.

Cook, Hudson and left guard Kelechi Osemele were named alternates for the annual all-star game, which will be played on Jan. 27, 2019 in Orlando, Fla.

[RELATED: Raiders' possible Coliseum finale brings anything but Christmas cheer]

Both Hudson and Osemele were named to the original Pro Bowl roster the past two seasons. This wasn’t Osemele’s year, considering he has already missed five games due to injury.

Cook has never made it, and was honest about his desire to be named an all star.

Travis Kelce and Eric Ebron were named as AFC tight ends. Maurkice Pouncey and brother Mike Pouncey were named as the AFC’s centers.

It’s entirely possible that all three Raiders alternates will end up playing in the game. Players drop out of the game regularly once the season ends, and Super Bowl participants are not eligible to play since it is scheduled a week after the Pro Bowl.

Gabe Jackson heads to IR, Raiders offensive line facing injury crisis

Gabe Jackson heads to IR, Raiders offensive line facing injury crisis

The Raiders' offensive line is pretty banged up, and won’t get right before season’s end. That was guaranteed when Gabe Jackson was placed on injured reserve Tuesday afternoon with an elbow injury.

The standout right guard battled an ankle injury all year, but was felled by an elbow problem during a Week 14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He got hurt during the game but refused to come out, finishing the game-winning drive in extreme pain.

Jackson would not play again. He was questionable before Sunday’s loss in Cincinnati, but couldn’t go against the Bengals.

“Gabe Jackson is suffering from a very legitimate elbow injury and it’s hard to block people when you can’t extend your arm,” coach Jon Gruden said Monday, a day before the transaction. "We’re concerned, obviously.”

The Raiders are also concerned about left guard Kelechi Osemele’s toe, which has kept him out the last two games.

Jon Feliciano is already on IR with a calf injury, leaving the Raiders in trouble on the inside.

Denzelle Good is now the starting right guard, and will play Monday against the Denver Broncos after allowing five quarterback hurries the week prior. Chaz Green will step in again if Osemele can’t go. He struggled mightily against the Bengals, giving up three sacks to Geno Atkins.

This Raiders offensive line has fallen on hard times after not long ago being considered among the NFL's best. They now have two rookies starting at tackle, and trouble on the interior that won’t go away until the end of the season.

[RELATED: Raiders' possible Coliseum finale brings anything but Christmas cheer]

Oakland also waived veteran linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. He began the year as starting strongside linebacker, but lost his job to Marquel Lee. He rarely played after that on defense or special teams.

Speedy defensive back Rico Gafford and defensive tackle Gabe Wright were promoted from the practice squad in corresponding moves.