Raiders

Raiders injury report: Linebacker health 'still sketchy,' but improved

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USATSI

Raiders injury report: Linebacker health 'still sketchy,' but improved

ALAMEDA – The Raiders fortified their linebacker corps this week after getting three members hurt in a Week 3 loss to Minnesota.

New guy Dakota Allen is adjusting to a new scheme and environment and practice squad promotion Justin Phillips is a work in progress, so the Raiders would obviously prefer to keep the top options on the field Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s certainly possible after Vontaze Burfict (elbow/shoulder/knee) and Nicholas Morrow (ankle) practiced each day this week. Both guys went from limited practice to full participation Friday and formally were taken off Friday’s injury report.

They did not receive a designation, meaning they’re healthy enough to play. Head coach Jon Gruden said the outlook isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than at the start of this practice week.

“Still sketchy, but I’m encouraged,” Gruden said. “Burfict’s practice looked better today. Morrow practiced, so we are encouraged by that.”

Allen still should see action, even with the regulars healthy enough to go. The Raiders need depth at linebacker, especially with so many dealing with ailments.

Right tackle Trent Brown is questionable but is expected to play. Right guard Jordan Devey’s status is up in the air due to a groin injury, though Denzelle Good will step in if he can’t go.

Defensive tackle Corey Liuget will remain a last-minute decision heading into Sunday. He’s still waiting to make his debut after signing late in the preseason and dealing with a knee injury in recent weeks.

“You got to be smart, you just don’t want to bring the guy and put him out there before he’s ready,” Gruden said. “He’s had now two and a half, three weeks to learn the system and get himself ready. And we’ll meet with him and the trainers on the airplane and we’ll see where he is, but we surely could use him inside.”

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The Colts were dealt some significant blows on the injury front. Linebacker Darius Leonard was ruled out with concussion-like symptoms, and star receiver T.Y. Hilton formally is doubtful with a quadriceps injury aggravated in Week 3.

INJURY REPORT

RAIDERS
Out
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)
WR Dwayne Harris (ankle)

Questionable
RT Trent Brown (knee)
OG Jordan Devey (groin)

COLTS
Out
S Malik Hooker (knee)
LB Darius Leonard (concussion)
DE Jabaal Sheard (knee)

Doubtful
WR T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps)

Questionable
CB Pierre Desir (hamstring)
DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (neck)
DE Jabaal Sheard (knee)

Raiders going 'all hands on deck' with Dion Jordan, D.J. Swearinger

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USATSI

Raiders going 'all hands on deck' with Dion Jordan, D.J. Swearinger

ALAMEDA -- Dion Jordan hasn’t been a Raider long. He signed with the team on Friday and formally joined the team on Tuesday after his NFL-imposed suspension ended, leaving some question whether he’d be ready to play right away.

That answer’s already becoming clear. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said the defensive lineman should don silver and black soon.

“Absolutely,” Guenther said. “I think there’s a very good chance he makes his Raiders debut.”

Jordan isn’t the only new guy ready to make a contribution. Safety D.J. Swearinger should step right in, possibly playing a significant role in this Bengals game with Karl Joseph now on injured reserve.

“I do [expect Swearinger to play],” Guenther said. “It’s all hands on deck this week with the guys we got.”

Swearinger seemed to have better odds of making an instant impact. He came in on Friday and his transition has been smooth after playing in a similar defense while with Arizona earlier this year.

“You know, coming from Arizona, Vance Joseph is the defensive coordinator there,” Guenther said. “He was my secondary coach when I was in Cincinnati, so he’s used to kind of the same terminology. When we got him here I was like, ‘hey this is this coverage, this is that coverage,’ and he shook his head, ‘yeah I got it.’ So that was helpful. And he’s a smart guy to begin with so he’s picked it up really good.”

Jordan had to show well in Thursday’s practice, a higher-tempo workout with one-on-one pass-rush drills. Jordan is in fantastic shape but hasn’t played all season while serving a 10-game ban for using Adderall. The Raiders really need Jordon to fortify a thin defensive end group worked hard during the past few games. 

[RELATED: Jordan ready to work, realize full potential with Raiders]

Jordan will bring some fresh legs, even if he’s only available on obvious passing downs.

“He’s big and long. He’s getting into football shape, and has really helped us out,” Guenther said. “He’s picking up the playbook quick, so he was in working with the first team at some points today.”

Derek Carr comfortable spreading ball around in Raiders' passing game

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AP

Derek Carr comfortable spreading ball around in Raiders' passing game

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr beat the Detroit Lions with a tiebreaking, game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. The Raiders quarterback completed two passes to Jalen Richard for chunk yards and another to Hunter Renfrow for a touchdown. Mix in some runs and that accounts for 75 yards with the game on the line.

Carr orchestrated another game-winner at the Coliseum the following Thursday night against the Chargers, connecting with Richard, then Renfrow, then Richard, the Renfrow, then Richard again. That set up Josh Jacobs’ 18-yard touchdown run to beat the Bolts.

Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller were in the pattern on both series. Carr enjoys going to the Raiders' top targets in big moments, but they’re typically blanketed with additional coverage.

Carr isn’t one to force the issue when a path of less resistance comes available, allowing the Raiders to steadily work down the field even in a time crunch.

He doesn’t have to worry about egos or demands for the darn ball when he gets back to the huddle. The Raiders share a singular focus, and that helps the quarterback operate under pressure and in times of less stress.

“It is so special and it’s very rare nowadays. We do not care about fantasy numbers, we do not care about stats, we don’t care about anything but winning,” Carr said. “And if they are going to take Waller away, the way we are going to have to win games is for someone else to step up and win their matchup. If they are going to take the pass game away, myself and our pass game, then Josh has to win it with our offensive line. If they want to take Josh away, then our guys have to win outside.”

Carr has worked with several top receivers and tight ends, with egos of varying sizes. His past experiences have been, at times, worse than this one.

“We as a team, we have such a good group of skill position guys that do not care about that stuff and, as you know, that’s rare especially nowadays when everything is on social media,” Carr said. “If you don’t get enough fantasy points, people are tweeting you and all this kind of stuff. I promise you no one on our team cares about that stuff even a little bit.”

Waller has been the best Raiders receiver in fantasy and the real world. His 51 catches for 588 yards rank first by a large margin, yet Carr has seven receivers with at least 12 catches.

Waller’s seeing the ball go in different directions by garnering extra attention, but he’s happy others are stepping up.

“It’s really cool, but I’m not really surprised,” Waller said. “They’ve been doing it. They’ve been showing themselves in practice from spring until now. It’s just a chance for everyone else to see it now. We’ve seen it for a while so, but it’s awesome to see.”

[RELATED: Jordan ready to work, realize full potential with Raiders]

That attitude comes from a team-first dynamic built by weathering so much adversity through the season. This group has bonded over all that and is playing better than the sum of its parts because of it.

“We care about each other; we care about seeing each other succeed,” Carr said. “That’s why if you ever watch our team, whenever someone scores a touchdown you don’t see anyone on the field like, ‘Man, that should have been my ball or man, that should have been me.’ Nobody cares about that stuff. We just cared that our buddy scored and we are going to win the football game.”