Raiders' Gareon Conley discusses 'scary' neck injury, quick rebound

Raiders' Gareon Conley discusses 'scary' neck injury, quick rebound

ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley was strapped to a stretcher on Monday, with helmet still on and his facemask taken off. He was loaded onto a cart and, even though he threw a thumb up before exited the Oakland Coliseum field of play, there was real concern for his safety.

The Raiders cornerback got hit on top of his helmet by Johnathan Abram’s knee and thigh during Monday night’s victory over Denver, seeming to compress his neck. Conley was on the turf for a long time, admittedly fearful that he had suffered a significant injury.

“It was scary,” Conley said Friday. “I didn’t want to get up initially, but I knew I was good once some time passed. After a while, my neck didn’t really hurt.”

That didn’t stop trainers from exercising extreme caution. Conley wanted to walk off the field, but that wasn’t an option. Chances were not taken based on how Conley felt.

“It was precautionary,” Conley said. “I had to follow protocol.”

Conley knew quickly he would be all right but understood those around him didn’t. It was a scary scene from a distance and must’ve been hard on loved ones watching from the seats or on TV.

“That’s more scary for my family,” Conley told reporters. “I don’t want my family to think it’s something more than what it is … But I understand (the trainers’) side, too. It was just precautionary, so I just followed the instructions.”

Conley’s neck was examined further at an area hospital and after doctors looked at the imaging, he was cleared to return to Oakland Coliseum and eventually head home.

Head coach Jon Gruden received good news on Monday night, that Conley would be okay.

Conley was back to normal in no time. He has been a limited practice participant all week and is formally questionable to play Sunday against Kansas City, but Conley’s fully expected to start against the Chiefs.

“I think he looks good,” Gruden said. “Thankfully really happy to say he’s okay to start with, but he’s a tough guy and he had a good week of practice.”

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His friends and teammates were as worried as others were initially, and are thrilled to see him back in action right away.

“When you see a guy in a situation where they’re carted off, you pray and hope everything’s okay,” cornerback Daryl Worley said. “It’s a blessing that he’s able to walk it off and step on the field this week.”

Raiders' Rodney Hudson ranked among best interior linemen in ESPN poll

Raiders' Rodney Hudson ranked among best interior linemen in ESPN poll

The Raiders have seen massive roster turnover over the past few seasons since coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock took over control of the organization.

But one stalwart throughout the adapting lineup has been veteran center Rodney Hudson. And with good reason, as ESPN recently ranked Hudson as the sixth-best interior offensive lineman in the NFL.

Anyone who has followed the Raiders over the past half-decade can tell you that Hudson has been an impeccable leader of the team's entire offensive linemen, helping run the offense along with quarterback Derek Carr.

[RELATED: Bill Callahan's 'dumbest team in America' rant sealed his Raiders fate]

Hudson has been especially proficient in pass protection, where he ranked either first or second every season in Pro Football Focus' pass-blocking grades from 2014-19. The Florida State product also came in at No. 99 on PFF's All-Decade top 101.

Hudson signed a three-year, $33.75 million extension with the Raiders in Aug. of 2019, making him the highest-paid center in the NFL. Given all the evidence above, Hudson clearly has earned it with his play for the Silver and Black.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Raiders' Henry Ruggs had lowest drop rate among first-round receivers

Raiders' Henry Ruggs had lowest drop rate among first-round receivers

Henry Ruggs had plenty of qualities that warranted being the first wide receiver off the board in April's draft.

Top-of-the-line speed, eye-popping athleticism and solid production at one of the nation's best collegiate programs made Ruggs an easy choice for Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden.

Pro Football Focus provided more evidence to support Ruggs' case, as he ended his time at Alabama with the lowest drop rate among the six wideouts taken in this year's first round.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

The speedster averaged 19.5 yards per touch over his junior season, making the most of every opportunity with the Crimson Tide in 2019. Although he caught just 40 passes last season, seven went for touchdowns, with Ruggs adding a 75-yard touchdown run (pass was caught behind the line of scrimmage) during a win over New Mexico State.

[RELATED: Would Raiders have won SB XXXVII if Robbins had played?]

Over his entire career in Tuscaloosa, 24 of his 98 receptions resulted in touchdowns.

The Raiders will need Ruggs' sure hands right away, as quarterback Derek Carr hopes to get the Raiders off to a strong start in the franchise's inaugural season in Las Vegas.