Justin Ellis

Raiders injury report: Justin Ellis released from injured reserve

Raiders injury report: Justin Ellis released from injured reserve

ALAMEDA – Justin Ellis is no longer a Raider.

The veteran defensive tackle received a settlement and was released from injured reserve. Since he’s a vested veteran, he is not subject to waivers and is now a free agent.

He was placed on season-ending IR just before the regular season began due to a knee injury.

Ellis is a free agent and is free to sign with any team at this point. The nose tackle was a fourth-round draft pick in 2014 and was a regular contributor during his rookie contract, signing a three-year extension before the 2018 season.

He has barely played in the Jon Gruden era. He got hurt in the 2018 season opener and was placed on short-term injured reserve. He returned later in the year but didn’t make much of an impact. He had just seven tackles in six games.

Ellis started this training camp well, but got hurt again in a relatively short span. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden gets frustrated with players who are rarely available, and wasn’t willing to wait for Ellis to regain health while making his initial 53-man roster.

Ellis’ departure was a foregone conclusion at that stage, and it was only a matter of time before the team released him off IR.

The Raiders are happy with Johnathan Hankins taking a huge interior role, working alongside Maurice Hurst, P.J. Hall and Corey Liuget.

Ellis was part of the Raiders’ famed 2014 NFL draft class that included Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson, Ellis and T.J. Carrie. Now, just Carr and Jackson remain.

Isaiah Johnson coming back soon

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said that rookie cornerback Isaiah Johnson will return off of injured reserve, possibly returning to practice on the Monday after the bye week completely off.

Gruden also mentioned quarterback Nate Peterman as a possible candidate to return off IR, though that’s uncertain.

“We’ll make a determination on them here in the next couple of days,” Gruden said.

Gabe Jackson still working his way back

The Raiders hope to get right guard Gabe Jackson back in time to play the Green Bay Packers in Week 6, though that’s far from a guarantee. Gruden hopes to have Jackson back to practice next week when the team resumes activity. While that isn’t a lock, Gruden has been encouraged by the progress Jackson made while away from the team during that two-game road trip without a return to Oakland.

“I’ve been getting videos from the trainers while I’ve been in London and Indiana about Gabe’s process and it’s exciting,” Gruden said. “This guy has clearly worked hard. He looks better, I think, than he’s ever looked. He’s really gotten himself in great shape. We’ll be smart about it. We hope if it’s not this coming game, hopefully it’s the next. He’s a valuable member of our team. Certainly he’ll give us a jolt when he comes back.”

Jackson has been out since injuring his MCL on Aug. 8 during a joint practice with the Rams.

Good(-ish) news on Arden Key

Defensive lineman Arden Key hurt his patellar tendon during Sunday’s victory over Chicago, though the Raiders were actually happy the MRI results weren’t worse.

[RELATED: Jon Gruden disappointed his brother Jay was fired in DC]

“I don’t believe there’s any serious structural damage, but he might be out for a week or two,” Gruden said. “That’s what I’m being told right now. We worked out four guys this morning, but no signings are imminent right now.”

Injuries strained Raiders' ability to evaluate IR-bound Justin Ellis

Injuries strained Raiders' ability to evaluate IR-bound Justin Ellis

The Raiders went with four defensive tackles on their initial 53-man roster.

Run stopper Justin Ellis wasn’t one of them. The veteran was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury.

Last week, head coach Jon Gruden said Ellis might be ready for the regular season opener. It’s uncertain if there was an injury setback, but he’s no longer eligible to play for the Raiders on Sept. 9 against Denver.

It’s possible the Raiders reach an injury settlement with him if the ailment isn’t season ending and Ellis wants to get back in the game in 2019, though that’s ultimately uncertain. Either way, it seems like Ellis’ time as a Raider is done.

Ellis missed most of last year on injured reserve after getting hurt in the 2018 regular-season opener, and wasn’t able to contribute much following his designation to return.

General manager Mike Mayock explained why Ellis was placed on IR during a Saturday conference call.

[RELATED: Raiders 53-man roster: Examining who made 2019 NFL regular season team]

“I think with Coach, the big thing is availability. Since he’s been here, Justin’s been hurt – to no fault of his own – I mean it’s a legitimate football injury,” Mayock said. “So, ‘Jelly’ has been hurt. It’s been really hard to evaluate him because of that. I think, again, as we go ahead philosophically with younger, more athletic, consistent, available players, we felt like that was a roster spot we could use in a different direction."

"We have a lot of respect for him though, he’s been a really good football player in this league.”

The Raiders currently have four defensive tackles on the roster. Johnathan Hankins and Maurice Hurst should start inside, with P.J. Hall and recent signing Corey Liuget in reserve. Ends Clelin Ferrell and Josh Mauro can also move inside and help rush from the interior.

Raiders' Gabe Jackson progressing well on way back from knee injury

Raiders' Gabe Jackson progressing well on way back from knee injury

ALAMEDA -- Gabe Jackson hasn’t been seen much since suffering an MCL injury on Aug. 8, an ailment expected to keep him out eight weeks total.

That would keep him out of the first four or five games for sure, with a possible return after a Week 6 bye. The Raiders could carry him on the roster that whole time, or they could put him on injured reserve with the intent of bringing him back with a designation to return.

Jackson would have to be on the original 53-man roster to be a short-term IR candidate, so he’ll be around after Saturday’s cut down no matter what.

Head coach Jon Gruden said he isn’t sure what the Raiders will do with him at that point, though he said that Jackson’s rehab is progressing well.

“He’s doing good,” Gruden said after Tuesday’s practice. “I see him walking around, which is a great sign. Rehab is going well. I don’t know when he’s going to be ready. I don’t even know if we are going to put him on IR, honestly, but his progress has been good. We’ll see where we are after the Seahawks game (on Thursday night) and make that final determination.”

Gruden was seen talking to Jackson and defensive tackle Justin Ellis outside the team’s performance center.

Ellis has a knee injury and might miss the season opener, and his roster spot is in greater jeopardy than ever.

Gruden was asked specifically about Ellis’ health and rehab schedule. Here’s his answer:

“I know he’s out this week. Don’t know when he’s going to be ready, so we’ll have to gather all the information obviously after the Seahawk game. See who’s available, see what we are going to do, but right now he’s not ready to go.”

[RELATED: Projecting Raiders' 53-man roster entering preseason finale]

Gruden also gave updates a few other injured Raiders.

On Eddie Vanderdoes, who has missed most of the summer with a concussion: “Not ready to go. He’s been hurt the whole training camp basically. It’s unfortunate, we haven’t really had a chance to see Eddie in pads since I’ve been here.”

On Maxx Crosby, who is recovering from surgery on his fractured hand and is back at practice: “He got the cast off. He’s wearing a big ball on there now. It looks really bad, but hopefully when the season starts we’ll be able to fit him with something that allows him to use his fingers. We just got to let the stitches come out before we do that.”

Also, Gruden said Trent Brown has missed the last two practices for personal reasons, with excused absences.