Raiders DL Mario Edwards active vs Texans, Ward a healthy scratch


Raiders DL Mario Edwards active vs Texans, Ward a healthy scratch

HOUSTON – Defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. was a late addition to the Raiders' injury report. He was designated as questionable with an illness on Saturday morning. It might’ve just been a clerical thing in case Edwards Jr. couldn’t go after battling the flu, because he’s playing.

Edwards Jr. was part of the active roster for this AFC Wild Card round playoff game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.

The Raiders defensive line was finally at full strength with Mario Edwards Jr. available and Stacy McGee healthy again, which allowed the team to make second-round pick Jihad Ward a healthy scratch.

The Illinois product had struggled in recent weeks, and will not be part of this line rotation.

The Raiders must carry on without Donald Penn, who was ruled out Friday with a knee injury. That snaps a streak of 156 straight starts.

The Raiders will role with seven offensive linemen after making Vadal Alexander a healthy scratch.

The Raiders also designated Derek Carr, Nate Allen, Antonio Hamilton, Branden Jackson as inactives.

Raiders, Jon Gruden 'diagnosing everything' during needed bye week


Raiders, Jon Gruden 'diagnosing everything' during needed bye week

ALAMEDA – An NFL bye week doesn’t have a set schedule. Players must have a four-day weekend, which is the primary guideline to be followed. It doesn’t say when teams must practice, though previous head coach Jack Del Rio used to schedule practices on Wednesday and Thursday, with some time off after that.

Jon Gruden’s handling this one differently. Raiders players left Tuesday afternoon, the team’s first report date since flying home following a 27-3 loss to Seattle in London.

Players were excused in the early afternoon, given a five-day gap before an extra practice Monday heading into the formal Week 8 practice week.

“We’re getting away from things for a bit,” rookie defensive tackle P.J. Hall said. “We’re on our own, but you have to make sure you do what’s necessary to stay in shape, and be ready.

“…(The timing of this bye week) is very important. This has been stressful, dealing with a lot of things we didn’t expect to happen. This bye week will help us relax a little bit, recharge and be ready to get back after it.”

Coaches won’t have such a long break. They’ll do some self-scouting to look why some plays worked and others didn’t. They’ll reflect back on their 1-5 record and try to find ways coaching can improve competitiveness.

“We’re diagnosing everything,” Gruden said. “Not only the plays we’ve called, the players we’ve used. The situations that we have had. We’re still looking at the roster. We’re looking around the league to find means to get better.

Gruden will also take a long look at his personnel and decide whether roster changes are required.

“(General Manager Reggie McKenzie) and I had a long meeting yesterday,” Gruden said. “I know that’s a shock to some people. They don’t think we have any meetings. I’m telling you, we’re working hard to solidify this roster every day and improve ourselves and get the right people on the field. Those are decisions that we’re looking at. We’re going to continue to try to develop our young players. We’re going to stay on the gas pedal and go as hard as we can.”

Despite multiple reports of s schism between the coaching staff and personnel department, Gruden made a point of saying he and McKenzie are working together to fix a roster damaged by a lack of draft production and some poor free-agent choices. A Gruden-topped hierarchy remains, however, as he continues to mold the roster to his preference.

“There’s going to continue to be roster changes, certainly, on every team in the league,” Gruden said. “That’s just the way the league is. Players get hurt. We’ll see what the medical report is when we return from the bye and we’ll go from there.”

Jon Gruden insists Raiders 'aren't tanking anything' despite 1-5 start

Jon Gruden insists Raiders 'aren't tanking anything' despite 1-5 start

ALAMEDA – The Raiders are currently in position for a top-5 NFL Draft pick. Starting the season 1-5 will set that up, though the win percentage must stay low all season to secure it.

That is not by design. Head coach Jon Gruden said so directly and with force during a Tuesday press conference following a 27-3 loss to Seattle in London.

That result was the second straight blowout. The L.A. Chargers and then Seahawks dismantled a Raiders seemingly worse as the season’s worn on.

The Raiders face three straight teams after the bye with equal 1-5 records, but there’s no guarantee the Silver and Black can beat any of them. After that Seahawks performance, everything is on the table.

Just because the Raiders might lose doesn’t mean they want to. The topic came seemingly out of the blue, after Gruden was asked about his message to players heading into their bye week.

“I’ll say this, we aren’t tanking anything,” Gruden said. “I hear the hatred out there, some of the rumors that we are tanking it to get a first round pick or a higher pick.

“We are not getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning to tank it. Ain’t nobody tanking it. I don’t know who wrote that or who said that or who thinks that, but that isn’t the case here.

“We are going to continue to work hard, continue to build our team and that was part of the message.”

“Tank” is both a literal and figurative four-letter word for coaches and teams, though the practice occurs in professional sports, most notably in the modern NBA and MLB.

The 2018 Raiders are obviously worse after trading Khalil Mack just before the regular season. Gruden is playing rookies especially at a heavy clip, though veteran free agents signed this offseason haven’t panned out so well. There are reports of Amari Cooper sitting on the trading block, though no actions have been taken in that regard.

Injuries have hindered an already thin depth chart, especially along the offensive line. Donald Penn is on injured reserve, Kelechi Osemele has missed two games and Kolton Miller’s playing through a difficult injury.

“We are going to do everything we can on the practice field to improve but it helps when you have healthy bodies,” Gruden said. “It helps when you have healthy lineman, certainly. We will try to get them healthy so we can do that.”