What allows Jon Gruden, Raiders to make Daryl Worley 'hybrid player'

What allows Jon Gruden, Raiders to make Daryl Worley 'hybrid player'

The Raiders have reinforcements coming at cornerback.

Nevin Lawson formally was reactivated Monday after serving a four-game PED suspension and a week practicing under a roster exemption. Rookie Isaiah Johnson is set to return off injured reserve, and should start practicing after the bye week off.

That’s good news for the position group, which already was functioning well with Gareon Conley, Lamarcus Joyner and Daryl Worley.

Cornerback is by far the team’s deepest spot on defense, which has allowed the Raiders to get creative how they use some of their most versatile pieces.

They have moved Joyner around some over the past two weeks, keeping him on the field even in the base package. They’re going to do the same with Worley, using his size and physicality to their advantage knowing there are capable players able to step into a spot he vacates while roving around the defensive backfield.

Lawson’s return should give the Raiders freedom to let Worley help several areas.

“Hopefully he can do that,” Gruden said. “We have a big picture [plan] for Worley. We think Worley is going to be a hybrid player for us. A guy that can play at safety, at nickel, at left corner or right. As we go down the stretch here I think Worley’s role is going to expand.”

Worley stands 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, with the strength, physicality and speed to match up with most any receiver or tight end. The Raiders need help against bigger tight ends especially, and Worley could be a weapon there or in places where shorter defensive backs Joyner and Karl Joseph have a tough time matching up.

The Raiders tried this a bit in a Week 2 loss to Kansas City, where Worley lined up in several locations. They didn’t really have the support required to make it all work well. They do now, with the secondary’s ranks healthy and getting stronger.

Worley’s exact role may vary based upon opposing matchups, and it will be interesting to see how he is deployed on a week-to-week basis.

The Raiders used their defensive backs well in Sunday's 24-21 victory over Chicago, playing just two linebackers the entire game. They used Joyner and Joseph in different spots to sustain quality run defense, making do without the standard compliment of linebackers in a front seven. 

Getting more experienced defensive backs involved will help. 

Lawson has tons of experience and should be able to step in and contribute. Johnson will be a real asset on special teams -- he was an excellent gunner in college -- and has the ideal size to play outside cornerback here. More development is required for someone new to the position -- he mostly has played receiver -- who missed most of the preseason with a concussion and a facial injury that ultimately got him placed on injured reserve.

Even if he starts practice Monday, it might take a few weeks to get him game ready. 

[RELATED: Report: Raiders DE Key out multiple weeks with knee injury]

“We’re hoping to get Isaiah Johnson, our fourth-round pick, back here on the practice field Monday so we can see where he is,” Gruden said. “We’d like to get him on the grass. He’s another big press guy that we like.

"We’re excited about getting our corners back at full strength. We’ll see how it goes.”

Raiders' Keelan Doss enjoying 'unorthodox' NFL journey amid inactive streak

Raiders' Keelan Doss enjoying 'unorthodox' NFL journey amid inactive streak

ALAMEDA -- The start to Keelan Doss' NFL career has been unique, to say the least. 

After going undrafted out of the University of California-Davis, Doss was signed by the Raiders and impressed early on in OTAs and training camp. The Alameda native became a fan favorite during the Raiders' run on HBO's "Hard Knocks," but eventually he was cut and signed on the Jaguars' practice squad. 

Doss' time away from the Raiders didn't last long, as he was given a $300K signing bonus along with the $495K salary to take Antonio Brown's spot on the roster after the star receiver demanded his release before Week 1. 

The rookie wideout was active from Weeks 2-7, totaling six catches for 79 yards as the receiver-starved Raiders tried to reshape their offense on the fly. Doss showed some promise in games against the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, but he has been inactive for the past four games, with newcomer Zay Jones and Marcell Ateman getting the nod to suit up. 

No player likes to sit on the sideline as his team battles for a playoff spot, but the rookie is taking everything in stride, focusing on getting better to earn his way onto the field. 

"I've just been in practice really just focusing on my game," Doss told NBC Sports Bay Area."The tools I know I can use when I do get in a position to play. Obviously it's tough just watching the team and everything, but at the end of the day I have to get better every day and that's what I continue to try to do."

"Just consistency, just every day," Doss continued. "I know my ability and what I can do. When I get an opportunity to go in I just have to continue to make plays like I have been and was when I was in the game."

[RELATED: Gruden enjoying Jacobs' success after Mack trade criticism

Not being able to contribute on Sundays has been tough, and his NFL journey has had more early twists and turns than most undrafted rookies. 

Still, Doss is happy to be a Raider and is taking each new curve with a positive attitude. 

"I couldn't make it up, you know what I mean?" Doss said about his first NFL season. "It's obviously unorthodox, but at the same time, I feel like God puts me in a position and I can handle it. I've enjoyed it. You've got to live in the moment, so that's what I try to do."

After three straight wins, the 6-4 Raiders will travel to New York on Sunday to face the Jets as they look to cement their foothold in the AFC playoff race. 

Doss will continue to hone his craft and be ready to make plays for the Silver and Black should they need him down the stretch. 

Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner's status vs. Jets uncertain

Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner's status vs. Jets uncertain

ALAMEDA – Raiders slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner stretched with his team to start Wednesday’s practice, a light session conducted without helmets.

The veteran cover man did some work during the portion open to the press, but he apparently didn’t do much after that.

He was formally considered a non-participant on the team’s practice report, which is an estimation considering the workout was only a walk-through.

The Raiders have moved lighter sessions to Wednesday, with intensity ratcheting up on Thursday and then down a bit Friday.

Coach Jon Gruden didn’t say much about Joyner’s health status after he missed a Week 11 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals due to a hamstring injury from the previous game.

“He got in some work,” Gruden said. “… We weren’t doing much today, as you could see, in terms of full-speed work. We got a lot of reps today. I’m hopeful that he’ll be ready to play, but we’ll see how it goes when we lather them up [Thursday].”

Nevin Lawson assumed Joyner’s role against Cincinnati and was solid in the high-priced veteran’s place.

The Raiders obviously need one of their defensive captains healthy as soon as possible, as they push to make a playoff run. It’s uncertain, though unlikely, that Joyner can come back to play the Jets.

Oakland would like him back the following week against the Kansas City Chiefs, which could be a showdown for AFC West supremacy.

David Sharpe wasn’t available with a calf strain, though starting right tackle Trent Brown continues to play through knee issues.

The Raiders conducted a walk-through practice Wednesday. Therefore, the following participation report is an estimation.

[RELATED: Gruden enjoying Jacobs' success after Mack trade criticism]

Raiders practice report

Did not practice
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)
OT David Sharpe (calf)

Limited practice
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
OT Trent Brown (knee)