Just a few days away from their third preseason game, the Las Vegas Raiders appear to be getting healthy at the right time. Needless to say, Raider Nation can rejoice.
One player, in particular, that was causing a lot of commotion was Pro Bowl tight end, Darren Waller. An integral part of the Raiders’ offense, Waller had been largely absent from training camp as he nursed an injury. He was also the center of some recent speculation, being called selfish, among other things, though that’s now been dismissed as offseason banter. Fans rejoiced today once he hit the practice field. One of Derek Carr’s favorite targets is now back in the fold, finally.
Who else is back on the Raiders’ offense?
According to The Athletic’s Tashan Reed, several Raiders on offense have returned to the fold. Dillon Stoner, the former Oklahoma State standout, was back on the field. On the heels of Demarcus Robinson getting cut, Stoner has a lot of ground to cover if he hopes to crack the final roster. Right now, DJ Turner and Tyron Johnson have been preseason darlings and are putting themselves in a solid position to make the roster.
A bigger news item is who’s missing from the offense. Star running back Josh Jacobs has been out of action since August 12th, according to Reed. You can also add tight end Jacob Hollister and, most notably, offensive lineman Brandon Parker, who hasn’t been active since the Hall of Fame game. As far as Jacobs goes, it continues to show the injury concerns. So far in his Raiders career, he’s been unable to stay healthy for long, consistent periods of time. Regardless, he will play an important role in the offense; there is no need to rush him.
The anomaly is Parker. He hasn’t played since the preseason opener and is obviously injured, yet the organization has refused to place him on injured reserve. That’s something that fans will no doubt continue to monitor.
What about the defense?
Besides Waller, a lot of today’s good news was regarding the defense. Divine Deablo, Bilal Nichols, Rock Ya-Sin, Johnathan Hankins, and Trayvon Mullen all made their returns to the practice field. All of them, in their own way, address several concerns that arguably had fans nervous. For example, the Raiders’ interior defensive line has been mostly unimpressive so far in the preseason. Many wondered if reinforcements were needed. However, with Nichols and Hankins coming back, some of that worry can be relieved.
The cornerback group has also been plagued by injuries in the early going. One advantage was that it forced Nate Hobbs to play outside while also covering Davante Adams in practice, which prepared the young corner. With Mullen and Ya-Sin back, some semblance of the original projected depth chart can take shape. Though it should be noted that Anthony Averett hasn’t practiced since July 31st, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images