Raiders notes: Donald Penn's potential IR return could cause dilemmas


Raiders notes: Donald Penn's potential IR return could cause dilemmas

ALAMEDA – Raiders offensive tackle Donald Penn has been on injured reserve since Oct. 3. It will be eight weeks on Wednesday, meaning he’s ever-so -lose to becoming eligible to return.

Just because he can at that point doesn’t mean he will, however. Penn isn’t ready just yet, but coach Jon Gruden has a level of confidence he can return to the active roster at some point this year.

“He has been downstairs rehabbing and we are hoping he can come back and help us,” Gruden said. “I don’t know how close he is officially, but he is making progress. Hope to have him on the field before the season is over.”

There are some pros and cons if the Raiders bring him back. Penn could definitely help at right tackle, with third-round rookie Brandon Parker in the midst of a trial by fire at the position. Parker has been good at times, overmatched at others. A veteran’s stability and Penn’s willingness to teach could an asset down the stretch.

But if Penn suffers a serious injury upon return, he would have to rehab well into the 2019 season, and the Raiders would be on the hook for his entire salary. Right now, only $1.750 million is guaranteed.

Activating Penn would also impact running back Marshawn Lynch. The Silver and Black have already given defensive tackle Justin Ellis one of two designations to return off IR.

If the second goes to Penn, Lynch will be shut down for sure. He went on injured reserve after a Week 6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in London, and would only be eligible for the Christmas Eve home finale against the Denver Broncos at the earliest.

Lynch is set to be an unrestricted free agent, and it’s uncertain what he plans to do in the future. His rehab timetable is also uncertain, or whether a return is even realistic at this stage.

Raiders to sign Ravens TE

The Silver and Black will sign tight end Darren Waller off the Ravens practice squad, Gruden announced on Monday.

They waived receiver Johnny Holton to create Waller’s roster spot. Defensive back Arrion Springs was waived off the practice squad to make room for Holton to return there.

“He’s a big guy that can really run,” Gruden said of Waller. “He was a wideout at Georgia Tech, he’s transitioning into a hybrid role and we will take a look at him.”

He will be more of a tight end with the Raiders, and can learn from veteran Jared Cook down the stretch. He grew up less thatn 50 miles from where Cook was raised in Georgia.

Waller has been suspended twice for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy, the last of which was a one-year ban that ended in Aug. 2018.

Justin Ellis cranking up

Ellis started practicing with his teammates last week, and Gruden said he could re-join the 53-man roster off injured reserve this week prior to Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

“Ellis will be up this week, hope to have him available against the Chiefs,” Gruden said. “That will help us on the inside running game I do believe.”

Sean Smith suspended

The NFL suspended former Raiders cornerback Sean Smith for the rest of the season, ESPN reported on Monday. A defensive back spent 2016 and 2017 with the Raiders before being released this offseason.

He was given a jail sentence for felony assault, though a one-year term was cut short when Smith was released in August. He has been a free agent since his return, though he was never formally disciplined for the incident prior to Monday’s suspension by the league.

Raiders coaches play waiting game while NFL peers return to facilities

Raiders coaches play waiting game while NFL peers return to facilities

NFL coaches will be allowed to move back into their team facilities beginning Friday, but just when the Raiders’ staff checks into its Henderson headquarters remains to be seen.

Construction of the 335,000-square-foot facility is still being completed, though team officials hope to move into the building this month. Like coaches around the league, the Raiders’ staff has been working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Moving trucks arrived on Monday to the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center, the new headquarters, from the previous facility in Alameda, Calif.

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Why versatile rookie Lynn Bowden could be Raiders’ secret weapon

Why versatile rookie Lynn Bowden could be Raiders’ secret weapon

Word of warning to anyone wondering how the Raiders are preparing to utilize rookie Lynn Bowden this season: Don’t bother asking him. He isn’t at liberty to say.

“I’m really not permitted to speak about that right now,” Bowden said while taking a break from the Raiders virtual OTA’s.

The mum’s the word response wasn’t relayed out of anger or deceit. The outgoing Bowden can’t wait to get on the field in his first NFL season and is beyond excited to help the Raiders anyway he can. He’s open and frank about all that and doesn’t mind expressing it one bit.

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