Raiders searching for linebackers after injury bug hits in Week 3 loss

Raiders searching for linebackers after injury bug hits in Week 3 loss

The Raiders are on a linebacker hunt. That’s required after three of them got hurt in Sunday’s 34-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Vontaze Burfict missed time with an elbow injury, and was dealing with knee and shoulder soreness heading into the game. Marquel Lee suffered an ankle injury and didn’t return. The same joint is bothering Nicholas Morrow, leaving the Raiders woefully thin at an important spot.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Monday that the team will look at free-agent options during this week.

“We will bring some players to look at from other teams that are available and monitor the health of our players,” Gruden said. “There’s a chance a couple of them can play and practice and perform in Indianapolis on Sunday, but as a contingency plan, we’ll certainly look at some available linebackers.”

Jason Cabinda seems like a logical option. He knows the defense well after playing in it last year and throughout the preseason. He’s currently on Detroit’s practice squad, and could leave that job to join a 53-man roster.

Brandon Marshall’s also on the street, though it’s uncertain whether the Raiders believe he can still play.

The Raiders also have rookie linebacker Justin Phillips on the practice squad.

The team’s first preference would be getting their guys healthy in time to play Indianapolis next week. Lee went down early, leaving the Raiders with four linebackers most of the game and three for some of it.

“You get worried when you have three of your linebackers come out of the game. Yeah, I’m a little concerned to say the least. [General Manager] Mike Mayock and staff are working hard to come up with a contingency plan if we need to find a linebacker.”

Offensive line issues

Gruden said that Trent Brown could not finish Sunday’s game due to an ankle injury. He was questionable for the Vikings game with a knee injury, so this is something new he’ll have to handle and possibly play through.

Gabe Jackson is doing well in rehab from an MCL injury, but won’t return to practice this week. The star right guard could be come back soon.

[RELATED: How Joyner's impact was minimized in Raiders' Week 3 loss]

“I think he’s continuing to make huge strides,” Gruden said. “Wednesday we’ll get an evaluation from [Head Athletic Trainer] Rod [Martin] and perhaps next week prior to the Bears game, he can start practicing. But he’s getting very close.

"I’ll credit Jordan Devey. He started at guard yesterday. He goes into right guard. We’re anxious to get Gabe back as our right guard. [Richie] Incognito had some good moments yesterday for his first appearance in over a year.

But when we can get our guards back and be at full strength up front -- hopefully Trent’s ready to go -- we really like our line.”

Raiders legend Cliff Branch denied in latest Pro Football Hall of Fame bid

Raiders legend Cliff Branch denied in latest Pro Football Hall of Fame bid

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted an expanded class in honor of the NFL’s 100th season, providing an opportunity to right some wrongs from way, way back.

They formed a blue-ribbon panel to select a larger group for induction, including 10 seniors who played at least 25 years ago, two coaches and three contributors.

But that still was not enough to get Cliff Branch in the Hall.

The legendary Raiders receiver was not included among the inductees, a disappointing turn for a Raiders franchise still mourning Branch’s loss.

Branch passed away last summer at the age of 71. Making the Hall of Fame proved elusive for the three-time Super Bowl champion and dangerous deep threat known for elite athleticism and speed.

[RELATEDBranch leaves lasting NFL legacy, earned Hall of Fame induction]

He had 501 catches for 8,685 yards and 67 touchdowns, averaging 17.3 yards per reception. Those totals match some of his contemporaries who have been enshrined, but his case has yet to be validated with a positive vote.

This was Branch’s best chance to get in. Now he’ll be reliant on the senior committee, which nominates one or two older players for enshrinement every year. Quarterback Ken Stabler was the last Raider inducted by the senior committee in 2016.

Roger Craig, who played for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1991, also was not selected.

The centennial class of enshrinees will be joined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020 by five modern-era players who will be elected the day before Super 54 in Miami.

Here is the complete list of inductees selected by the blue-ribbon panel as part of the 2020 Hall of Fame Class that consists of 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches:


Bill Cowher – 1992-2006 (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Jimmy Johnson – 1989-1993 (Dallas Cowboys(, 1996-99 (Miami Dolphins)


Steve Sabol, Administrator/President – 1964-2012 (NFL Films)
Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 (NFL)
George Young, Contributor/General Manager – 1968-1974 (Baltimore Colts), 1975-78 (Miami Dolphins), 1979-1997 (New York Giants), 1998-2001 (NFL)


Harold Carmichael, WR – 1971-1983 (Philadelphia Eagles), 1984 (Dallas Cowboys)
Jim Covert, T – 1983-1990 (Chicago Bears)
Bobby Dillon, S – 1952-59 (Green Bay Packers)
Cliff Harris, S – 1970-79 (Dallas Cowboys)
Winston Hill, T – 1963-1976 (New York Jets), 1977 (Los Angeles Rams)
Alex Karras, DT – 1958-1962, 1964-1970 (Detroit Lions)
Donnie Shell, S – 1974-1987 (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Duke Slater, T – 1922 (Milwaukee Badgers), 1922-25 (Rock Island Independents), 1926-1931 (Chicago Cardinals)
Mac Speedie, E – 1946-1952 (Cleveland Browns AAFC/NFL)
Ed Sprinkle, DE/LB/E – 1944-1955 (Chicago Bears)

NFL rumors: Raiders fire D-line coach Brentson Buckner after one season

NFL rumors: Raiders fire D-line coach Brentson Buckner after one season

Brentson Buckner's time with the Raiders appears to be over after only one season. 

NFL Media's Jim Trotter reported Tuesday that the Raiders have fired Buckner and will name Rod Marinelli as their new defensive line coach. As Trotter pointed out, the Raiders improved tremendously under Buckner in 2019, improving their sack total by 19 compared to the previous season. 

Buckner reacted to the news later Tuesday afternoon.

While the Raiders vastly improved their sack numbers, they still finished the regular season tied for 24th in the NFL. But fifth-round draft pick Maxx Crosby finished the season with 10 sacks and 14 QB hits this season as a rookie, and there's no doubt Buckner played a large role in Crosby's fast transition to the NFL.

Marinelli served as the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator since the 2014 season. He coached the team's D-line the year before. 

[RELATED: Gruden, Mayock spotted at East-West Shrine Bowl practice]

The Cowboys ended 2019 with 39 sacks, good for 19th in the league.

Coach Jon Gruden's decision to fire Buckner as one year in Silver and Black surely comes as a surprise.