Raiders

Raiders injury report: Martavis Bryant, Jordy Nelson formally ruled out

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USATSI

Raiders injury report: Martavis Bryant, Jordy Nelson formally ruled out

ALAMEDA -- Jordy Nelson didn’t practice all week because of a bone bruise around his knee. The Raiders receiver wasn’t even listed as limited during practice approximations on Thursday and Friday, when the team conducted walk-throughs indoors due to poor air quality.

That was a sign the veteran wouldn’t be available for Sunday’s game at Arizona. He was listed as questionable anyway on the team’s official injury report, a mild surprise negated when he was downgraded to out a short while later.

We already knew Martavis Bryant wouldn’t be available in Arizona with a PCL injury. Nelson wasn’t expected to play, but this puts finality on a situation that will hurt an already struggling Raiders passing game.

Seth Roberts and Brandon LaFell will be the primary receivers -- tight end Jared Cook obviously plays a huge role in the passing game -- and rookie Marcell Ateman will have a offensive role in his NFL debut.

The Raiders are razor thin at an important spot.

The secondary could be another if some questionable cornerbacks are unable to play. Gareon Conley (groin) and Nick Nelson (illness) had their playing status called into question. That’s two of the top cornerbacks on the depth chart, and missing them would prove difficult. It’s certainly possible -- maybe even likely -- that both defensive backs will play against the Cardinals.

INJURY REPORT

RAIDERS
Out

WR Maratvis Bryant (knee)
WR Jordy Nelson (knee)

Questionable
CB Nick Nelson (illness)
LB Kyle Wilber (knee)
CB Gareon Conley (groin)

CARDINALS
Out

S Budda Baker (knee)
WR Chad Williams (ankle)

Questionable
K Phil Dawson (hip)
S Rudy Ford (heel)
DT Rodney Gunter (not injury related)
OL D.J. Humphries (knee)
OL Mike Iupati (back)
DT Robert Nkemdiche (calf)

NFL rumors: Raiders work out running backs LeGarrette Blount, Bo Scarbrough

NFL rumors: Raiders work out running backs LeGarrette Blount, Bo Scarbrough

Through the first six games of his NFL career, Josh Jacobs has been everything the Raiders hoped he would be, and the rookie running back quite clearly is one of the frontrunners to be named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Still, though, he soon will enter uncharted territory.

Jacobs was never a full-time bell cow throughout his college career. Over three years at Alabama, he totaled 251 carries, never topping more than 120 in any single season. Of the 122 carries by Raiders running backs so far this season, 88 of them have gone to Jacobs.

The rookie has been productive with those attempts, averaging 4.9 yards per rush, and he has scored five touchdowns. Oakland has increased his workload in the wake of several injuries to its wide receivers, culminating with a career-best performance in the Raiders' Week 6 win over the Bears, in which Jacobs rushed 26 times for 123 yards and two scores.

At 5-10, 220 lbs., Jacobs has the physical traits to be an every-down back. But behind him are two similarly sized backs in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, both of whom are 5-8 and between 205-210 lbs. With Jacobs' backups being diminutive in stature, the Raiders reportedly went looking for a bigger-bodied bruiser.

ESPN's Field Yates reported Wednesday that Oakland worked out two free-agent running backs, both of which would immediately become the largest running back on the Raiders' roster, if they were signed.

Of those two backs, LeGarrette Blount is the more accomplished. A 10-year NFL veteran, Blount played for the Lions last season, rushing 154 times for 418 yards and five touchdowns. A short-yard specialist, Blount has 56 career rushing touchdowns to his name.

Bo Scarbrough has yet to appear in an NFL game, but was on the Cowboys and Jaguars practice squads last year before being signed by the Seahawks toward the end of the season. Interestingly enough, he and Jacobs overlapped for two years at Alabama, and Jacobs only moved into a featured role after Scarbrough departed.

[RELATED: Why Jacobs is harsh grader even after biggest Raiders games]

The Raiders appear intent on relying on their run game moving forward, and while Jacobs affords them that ability, the stable of running backs could be rounded out a bit better. Whether it's Blount, Scarbrough or another power back, don't be surprised if there's a new addition to Oakland's running back room sometime soon.

Why Darren Waller contract extension with Raiders is money well spent

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USATSI

Why Darren Waller contract extension with Raiders is money well spent

ALAMEDA -- Raiders tight end Darren Waller is just five games into a breakout season, but it’s already clear he’s in the NFL's top tier. He’s a dynamic playmaker with a prototypical body, a receiver’s speed, soft hands and the toughness required to block effectively.

Waller’s just entering his prime at 27 years old, with several years of excellence ahead. His three-year contract extension Wednesday was

 money easily and well spent on a player just scratching the surface of what he can do in this league.

The Raiders should shout this news from the mountaintops and put him on Las Vegas billboards posthaste. He’s a fantastic redemption story who inspires those around him and is incredibly easy to root for.

Waller was a player suspended twice for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy while battling addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs and whatever else he could find.

He’s now more than two years clean, living his best life while realizing vast potential nearly wasted. Waller has no problem discussing his past and his path to sobriety, hoping to inspire others to overcome issues with substance abuse.

“It’s one of the great stories in football, one of the great things that I’ve seen in my career,” Gruden said last week. “I’m really proud of him, so thrilled for him getting it together and being an honest, upfront guy and talking about it and giving other young people the same enthusiasm to beat it, the same confidence that they can beat whatever addiction they might have.”

This is a guy you want around long-term. This is a steady locker room presence and a reliable target who will be just 31 years old when he plays out this contract extension. Waller can be one of the league’s best tight ends for years, making this deal seem like a bargain in the long run.

Gruden easily earmarked money for Waller, already considering him among the league’s best.

“He’s really a rookie playing tight end,” Gruden said. “He was a wide receiver in college. He sat out of football for a year. He leads the league in receiving right now at that position. If you watched him block, I don’t know if there’s a better tight end in football, really.”

Waller’s extension also suggests the Raiders are set up at tight end fro a long time. Rookie fourth-round draft pick Foster Moreau has surprised many in an excellent start to his professional career, showing toughness in the run game and an ability to make clutch catches.

They will play a huge role in a Raiders offense struggling to find receiver production with Tyrell Williams ailing, as well as three players who were in training camp now cut and two in-season trades to account for those losses.

[RELATED: Carr making most of Raiders' revolving cast of receivers]

Waller is the passing game’s best asset right now, with an ability to play in-line tight end and every receiver spot. Having him around long term adds vital stability to the offense, and the timing could’ve have been better.

The Raiders eliminated contract uncertainty down the line with a respectable sum Wednesday. Waller's extension thus avoids the drama associated with encroaching free agency and increased market value when his stats shoot skyward in 2019 and beyond as he further develops as a player.