Written for Salute Magazine; original here
The Oakland Raiders are 1-0 following their opening week victory over the Tennessee Titans. They’re currently preparing for their first regular season home game of 2017 against the New York Jets on Sunday, probably the easiest game on the schedule considering that the Jets are currently spiralling in a blackhole of incompetence. There’s still smaller news bites to check out this week, however. This is the Raiders Wednesday Update, Week 2 Edition.
Injury Report: Close to Zero
Three players on the active roster were ruled out with injuries for the Titans game: safety Keith McGill, fullback Jamize Olawale and first round cornerback Gareon Conley. Today, they all practice in some form, meaning the Raiders have full participation during a practice for the first time this season. Outside of those three, everyone else is ready to go.
McGill broke a bone in his foot during training camp and sat out at the rest of the preseason. He was limited to individual drill work today, but that’s the most he’s done since the initial injury. Olawale tweaked his quad during the third preseason game, presumably sitting out against the Titans as a precaution. He practiced fully today.
Conley has been battling a shin injury since before training camp started and only just began limited participation a couple of weeks ago. He’s expected to fully participate later in the week so he can try and get some snaps on Sunday. His presence could help the Raiders hampered secondary out big time, though it’s not like they need reinforcements to take down the Jets.
Giorgio Tavecchio Awarded Special Teams Player of the Week
The loss of Sebastian Janikowski seemed harrowing at first. A player who has spent his entire 17 year career with the same team going on injured reserve SHOULD be crippling, even if that player is just a kicker. In spite of this, props have to be given to Tavecchio, whose time in the NFL has mainly been spent as a camp leg, the last three seasons for the Raiders.
His week 1 performance was the key difference in the Raiders’ win over the Titans, and the league has taken notice, naming Tavecchio the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. That’s a high honor for a guy who was playing his first regular season game. Hopefully Tavecchio can keep up the good work for the rest of the season.
Max Valles Returns to Practice Squad
A consequence of bringing Tavecchio in to replace Janikowski was having to part ways with another player. The Raiders were hoping Seabass would check out medically so he could suit up last Sunday, but they added Tavecchio to the practice squad as a backup plan. This forced them to clear a spot for him, and Valles unfortunately ended up being the one to go.
A few days later, he’s already back. Janikowski going to IR meant elevating Tavecchio to the active roster, which opened the practice squad slot up again. Thus, Valles is back once more, meaning this is technically his third stint with the team, after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 draft and spending most of that season on the practice squad, before the Buffalo Bills signed him.
Jelani Jenkins Heads to Buffalo, A Damning Move for Oakland
Jenkins was the lone free agent signing on defense for the Raiders in the offseason, and he was expected to be their starter at weakside linebacker come week 1. However, he battled injuries throughout training camp, enough that the Raiders decided to abort their plans prematurely, putting him on IR and releasing him with an injury settlement.
That meant that Jenkins was free to sign with another team without restriction, and he now has a new home, agreeing to a deal with the Bills yesterday. Buffalo has had numerous injuries to their linebacking corps, so he should receive playing time immediately.
It’s a bit puzzling as to why the Raiders gave up on Jenkins so quickly if he’s already healthy enough to play for another squad. Perhaps they’re comfortable with Cory James at weakside LB and a rotation of rookie Marquel Lee and Tyrell Adams in the middle. But Jenkins played well when he did get on the field during the preseason, so the Raiders personnel decisions for that position group don’t exactly look smart right now.