The Raiders cannot keep a healthy receiving corps.
Oakland came into Sunday’s game against the Cardinals missing two primary receivers. Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant were both inactive due to knee injuries, causing Brandon LaFell, Seth Roberts, and Marcell Ateman to take starting reps. Unfortunately, the day only grew worse for the Raiders as both Brandon LaFell and Dwayne Harris left with injuries of their own.
Harris originally went down with a chest injury early in Sunday’s game. He was carted off the field but was able to return later in the game. However, he went down once again with an injury after running into a sideline camera while returning a punt. LaFell, on the other hand, suffered an Achilles injury during the game was had to be helped to the locker room. The injury appeared to be serious at the time, and the Raiders have all but confirmed that fact. Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported late Sunday afternoon that the Raiders believed the injury to be a ruptured Achilles. LaFell was immediately ruled out for the game’s remainder. If the injury is indeed as serious as it appears, he will see his season end as well.
Oakland has kept this game against the Cardinals close, but the injuries are beginning to cause some issues. The Raiders now only have three healthy receivers with which to finish the game. Roberts is the only player with experience while Ateman and Saeed Blacknall are both rookies. This isn’t a recipe for success as Oakland tries to take control late.
Whether or not this comeback happens, the Raiders will have to find some answers at the receiver position. Oakland already traded away Amari Cooper, and both Nelson and Bryant are considered week-to-week. If they can’t recover for next week’s game, the Raiders will still only have three healthy wide receivers. There are three more options on the practice squad in Rashard Davis, Rico Gafford, and ArDarius Stewart, but none have the experience to immediately step in and post quality snaps. Oakland will have to find other options via free agency.
Terrelle Pryor was recently released by the Bills and could be a quick fix, but he is developing a reputation as a headache after bouncing around the league. He has spent time with Cleveland, Washington, New York, and Buffalo while making plays at each stop. However, every team simply releases him after only a few weeks. Another option could be Jeremy Maclin. The nine-year veteran has dealt with injuries over the past two seasons, but he has still produced for every team. Finally, the Raiders could also work out former Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong. Originally a third-round pick by Houston, Strong wasn’t the fastest receiver, but he still showed a penchant for bringing in clutch touchdown receptions. He has spent time with both the Texans and Jaguars but was cut this past April by Jacksonville while recovering from a torn ACL.
If LaFell is done for the season, he will only be the latest loss in an extremely rough 2018 season. The Raiders have gone through so many roster changes this year, many of which have been caused by injuries. Jon Gruden says that the Raiders aren’t tanking, but at this point, it may actually be inevitable due to the losses in the locker room.