Raiders

Raiders-Ravens injury report: Jordy Nelson has 'pretty good chance' to play

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Raiders-Ravens injury report: Jordy Nelson has 'pretty good chance' to play

BALTIMORE – Raiders receiver Jordy Nelson was formally considered questionable to play Sunday at Baltimore on the team’s official injury. That puts his odds at 50-50.

Head coach Jon Gruden upped them a smidge after Friday’s practice, the final session before traveling to combat the Ravens.

“I think he has a pretty good chance to play,” Gruden said. “I don’t know how much, but we’ll see how it goes. Keon Hatcher will be ready to play.”

Having Nelson up even in a limited role could help a group of healthy receivers with little experience. Seth Roberts is that group’s elder statesman with Nelson banged up and Brandon LaFell now on injured reserve.

Nelson made last week’s trip to Arizona in large part to counsel this young corps, but could do far more from the field. Nelson’s a grinder who doesn’t like missing practices or games.

Adding him even for a few snaps and targets could get the offense moving, or take attention off young talents in coverage.

Roberts, rookie Marcell Ateman and first-year pro Keon Hatcher will play major roles in the offense – Martavius Bryant was formally ruled out with a knee injury – whether Nelson is ready or not.

That isn’t easy on quarterback Derek Carr – his season started with Bryant, Nelson and Amari Cooper featured at receiver – but Gruden praised his ability to work with any pass catcher. That’s what happened in last week’s 23-21 victory over Arizona, and it’s what New Orleans’ Drew Brees did in a nationally-televised Thanksgiving game, throwing four touchdowns to undrafted players to beat Atlanta.

“You don’t have to be a first-round draft choice to be a good player,” Gruden said. "It’s one thing I’ve always believed in. If you get the right kind of guys that fit that type of system, that work their butt off every day, you’d be surprised at what guys can do when they get an opportunity. But to your point, yes, (Brees’ performance) was what I was talking about. It was awesome to see.”

The Raiders won’t see defensive tackle Justin Ellis return off injured reserve before Sunday’s game against the Ravens. He was formally designated to return and start a 21-day practice window on Thursday, not enough lead time to get the nose tackle up and running.

“We’ll shoot for next week,” Gruden said. “We’ll try to get him a couple more practices. He is getting better.”

Also, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh announced what most expected, that rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson would make his second start for the injured Joe Flacco. Jackson’s a speed demon unafraid to run, as he did beating Cincinnati last week.

“Preparation for Jackson is a lot different than Flacco,” Gruden said. “We had Rico Gafford, one of our scout team guys, try to simulate him. Hard to do with that kind of speed and passing ability. But we got our work done. We’ll see how it worked out.”

INJURY REPORT

RAIDERS
Out

WR Maratvis Bryant (knee)

Questionable
WR Jordy Nelson (knee)
CB Leon Hall (back)

RAVENS
Out

QB Joe Flacco (hip)
OT James Hurst (back)

Questionable
DB/LB Andy Levine (ankle)
LB Tim Williams (ankle)
CB Tavon Young (groin)
RB Alex Collins (foot)
OG Alex Lewis (shoulder)

Raiders draft pick Josh Jacobs pleased with 'Madden 20' rookie rating

Raiders draft pick Josh Jacobs pleased with 'Madden 20' rookie rating

It's weird to picture yourself in a video game, right? People actually take a controller and play ... well, they play you.

When it comes to playing Madden NFL, each rookie is rated every year. Baker Mayfield reacted to his ratings last season and this time around, Raiders' newly-drafted running back Josh Jacobs figured out his rating for "Madden NFL 20" -- and he appeared to be pleased with it:

The Raiders quoted his tweet saying the number is "only gonna go up," in support of Jacobs.

The 21-year-old said there was only one rookie he spoke to who had a higher rating. If you're wondering if it was Kyler Murray, he already told one Twitter commenter that it wasn't the No. 1 overall pick he was referring to. Still, a 74 rating isn't bad at all, so it's easy to see why he's happy to share the number that was granted to him.

Madden ratings for a running back are determined by acceleration, agility, and speed. They also update the determinants each season -- but the EA website does say in an article this specific position is a unique one.

"[It's unique] in the sense that rookie rushers often make immediate impacts on the field, while other positions tend to have a bit of transitional period."

[RELATED: Analyst says Jacobs in best position to succeed]

And how does EA come up with the ratings? Well, it's quite simple, really.

"It's combine numbers and then some formulas we've created spits a lot of those numbers they turn there into ratings, we also have a modifier available for guys who show something different on-field compared to their numbers," Dustin Smith, assistant producer for EA Madden NFL told NBC Sports California.

The site also references the possibilities of improvements -- so the Raiders may have a point. 

"Madden 20" will be released on August 2, but you can, of course, preorder it. 

Raiders OTA primer: Five questions entering important offseason phase

Raiders OTA primer: Five questions entering important offseason phase

The Raiders are progressing right through the offseason program, which starts its third and final phase on Tuesday when organized team activities formally begin. The first phase is all about conditioning and meetings. The second allows on-field workouts, without helmets or offense vs. defense work.

They can put it all together over the next four weeks. Well, almost. Players can put helmets on at least, but there’s no live contact over the course of 10 OTA practices and a mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

Units can go against each other these days, a vital part of learning/mastering Raiders schemes. And the competition for roster spots formally starts Monday. Nothing will be decided for months, but players can make an early impression on an organization looking for improved production in most spots. The 2019 Raiders really start coming together now.

Here are some key questions to keep an eye on throughout OTAs and minicamp:

Will veteran LBs flash old form?

Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall know how to run a defensive front seven. Both guys have done so for the Bengals and Broncos, respectively, for several years. Injuries (and maybe age) have pushed them out of old markets and toward the Silver and Black, where they’re looking to restart careers representing new colors.

Recent past creates question marks about whether they can find old form and be three-down mainstays for a Raiders defense needing stability inside. Burfict’s intimate knowledge of Paul Guenther’s scheme while working with him Cincinnati should help tremendously. So should Burfict’s aggressive play inside.

Marshall’s a cerebral sort and a sure tackler capable of playing any linebacker spot.

Those guys could help a great deal. Keyword: could. Don’t forget the optimism surrounding Derrick Johnson last offseason, when spring promises of upgraded play were never met.

Marshall and Burfict will start fitting into this Raiders' defense during OTAs, and we’ll see how much spring remains in veteran steps. Both guys are working on one-year contracts but hope to remain for a longer term. They’ll have to prove themselves deserving in 2019 to stick around.

How will TE shakeup shake out?

The Raiders have mixed up their tight end position group this offseason, letting Jared Cook walk in free agency before cutting Lee Smith recently.

Darren Waller’s set for a big receiving role that he’ll have to earn in OTAs and training camp. He has all the speed and athleticism needed for success, but he must be reliable in the pattern to get targets in the passing game.

Fourth-round pick Foster Moreau will compete for a role, alongside Luke Willson and Derek Carrier. The group will look different, and those guys must step up and fill an important blocking role in the run game, especially. Competition for snaps should be fierce in that group. OTAs will give some a leg up heading into training camp.

Chemistry class in session?

Quarterback Derek Carr worked extensively with new receivers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams at universities and even public parks trying to establish an early rapport with his new receivers. The offseason program has afforded regular opportunities to do so with them and other newbies Ryan Grant and J.J. Nelson and even fifth-round draft pick Hunter Renfrow.

Thus far, they’ve only worked against air. Adding coverage and defensive resistance will be a solid litmus test to see if the timing is in fact right. There’s no real worry even if not, considering how much time remains to get it right.

Will three first-rounders make a good OTA impression?

The Raiders used three first-round picks on guys who need pads to truly be evaluated. That’s especially true for defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell (No. 4 overall) and running back Josh Jacobs (No. 24), who won’t really be able to thump until training camp.

Athleticism and burst and elusiveness could be seen clearly in OTAs, where these guys could jump right into top units. Safety Johnathan Abram will be asked to cover and do a bit of everything, but he might be brought along initially behind Karl Joseph at strong safety. That doesn’t mean the hierarchy will remain, but it could ease Abram’s initial transition.

The Raiders are counting on all three first-rounders to make an immediate impact, and they’d like to hit the ground running and show positive flashes while learning the scheme.

[RELATED: AB posts cryptic tweet after Big Ben apology]

Who jumps out in cornerback rotation?

Gareon Conley seems set to start at one outside cornerback spot. Daryl Worley’s favored to start on the opposite end, with safety Lamarcus Joyner sliding into the slot when required. Veteran Nevin Lawson will have something to say about that. And the Raiders didn’t draft Trayon Mullen at No. 40 overall to sit around and play fourth fiddle.

Expect some competition from that position group during OTAs and beyond, as we find out who can excel playing the physical coverage style Guenther requires. Rashaan Melvin never figured it out, and had a rough 2018. There’s enough talent here that a slow start could hurt fighting for regular-season snaps, as we see how a premium position group fares against a loaded receiver corps that will start testing coverage ability immediately.