Edwards Jr 'foaming at the mouth' to return to Raiders lineup

Edwards Jr 'foaming at the mouth' to return to Raiders lineup

ALAMEDA – Mario Edwards Jr. hasn’t played football in a long, long time. His last go round came back on Aug. 12, during the Raiders’ preseason opener at Arizona.

He suffered a hip injury and hasn’t been back since. That’s nearly four months now, too long a drought for the young, versatile defensive lineman.

That’s why Monday meant so much. It was just a walk-through practice, nothing too physical, but the act of practicing meant something special after his extended absence.

“It felt good just to get out there with those guys,” Edwards Jr. said Monday evening. “My last time with them was against the Cardinals in the preseason. Even just to get out there in a practice and enjoy the camaraderie definitely was nice.”

Edwards Jr.’s rehab has been slower than originally expected, which has kept him on injured reserve well after he was eligible to practice in Week 7 and play in Week 9. Edwards Jr. wanted to make sure his hip, which he called “a freaky thing,” healed right and was free of setbacks.

While he took a mature approach to his rehab, Sundays proved hard to bear. Watching Raiders games were difficult, even with the team sitting pretty at 10-2 after Sunday’s victory over Buffalo.

That was especially true when the Raiders came back to beat the Carolina Panthers. Defense sealed that victory, with Khalil Mack’s strip sack of Cam Newton and the recovery of his own forced fumble. That proved too much to take. Edwards Jr. started itching to get back on the field.

Now that he’s ever so close to a return, Edwards Jr. has let himself ponder lining up with Mack and Bruce Irvin on third and long, ready to get after the quarterback.

“I’ve been dreaming of that, especially after watching Mack strip Cam and things like that,” Edwards Jr. said. “I just wanted to be out there and be a part of it. I’ve been foaming at the mouth ever since then.”

Edwards Jr. must’ve known he was close to getting back on the field. He was running well on the treadmill prior to that game, and was out on the field shortly after the Panthers win.

The Raiders hope Edwards Jr. can be back in time to play the Chargers in San Diego on Dec. 18. That would give him three regular-season games to ramp up and be fully immersed in the defense should the Raiders make the postseason.

Edwards Jr., however, doesn’t have a set timetable to return.

“I’m a little different, so I don’t really know,” Edwards Jr. said. “We don’t have a date on it. It’s more about how I’m feeling each day and how I’m healing.”

Edwards Jr. called his absence bittersweet – he hasn’t played a regular season game since Dec. 20, when he suffered a neck injury versus Green Bay – but remains forward thinking even missing the season to this point.

“It sucked, but everything happened for a reason,” Edwards Jr. said. “I’m healing up great, and I’m looking forward to coming back and playing.”

Raiders' Edwards Jr. designated for return, will practice Monday

Raiders' Edwards Jr. designated for return, will practice Monday

ALAMEDA – Mario Edwards Jr. will return to Raiders practice on Monday afternoon, head coach Jack Del Rio said in his weekly press conference.

This will be his first football activity since suffering a hip injury in the preseason opener. His rehab has been a slow process, but be he began side work on a practice field last week.

Edwards Jr. has officially been designated to return off of injured reserve, a list he has been on since the day after the first 53-man roster was set prior to the regular season.

He has a 21-day window to practice. After that he must be activated or placed on injured reserve. He can return before that, however, and could be ready by the Dec. 18 road game at San Diego if all goes well each day in his return to practice. He would have two full weeks to get back in enough shape to play on Sundays.

The Raiders have certainly missed Edwards Jr. on the interior defensive line. He’s an athletic player solid against the run and pass, a versatile chess piece the coaching staff planned to move around some before he got hurt.

General manager Reggie McKenzie said last week that Edwards Jr. hadn’t suffered setbacks or required surgery to fix his ailing hip, only that it took a while to be pain free.

“It was all on him,” McKenzie said on Dec. 1. “The injury was healing and has healed now. A lot of it is a different feel for him. I’m sure hadn’t ever been hurt there, and there’s a lot of stuff he had to get through. … As long as he’s asymptomatic, we’ll keep pushing the envelope with him.”

 

Raiders snap count: Carrie, Allen help ailing secondary perform well

Raiders snap count: Carrie, Allen help ailing secondary perform well

OAKLAND – The Raiders weren't at full strength heading into Sunday’s home game against Buffalo, and lost a key member during that contest.

Backups filled in well for missing pieces, and were key in the Raiders’ 38-24 victory at Oakland Coliseum.

TJ Carrie took over as slot corner after DJ Hayden was placed on injured reserve last week, and was a steady presence on the interior in 40 defensive snaps. He allowed just two receptions for 28 yards on seven targets, with just six total yards coming after the catch. The Raiders needed sure tackling in that spot and got it from Carrie, who hasn’t played much this year despite significant experience in the slot.

The Raiders also got a key sack from James Cowser, playing defense only with Shilique Calhoun out with a knee injury.

Nate Allen had to step in for strong safety Karl Joseph 20 snaps into Sunday’s game, when the first-round rookie was lost with a foot/toe injury. The veteran Allen played 40 snaps, and finishing with three tackles, a pass defensed and an interception made easy on a ball tipped skyward by Khalil Mack. Allen’s veteran presence allow the Raiders to keep charging and flashed the depth required to survive injuries to key starters.

Dan Williams, Denico Autry played significant snaps at defensive tackle, a position group weakened by ankle injuries to Darius Latham and Stacy McGee.

Let’s take a look at the entire Raiders snap count:

OFFENSE
71 – OL Donald Penn, OL Austin Howard, OL Donald Penn, OL Gabe Jackson, QB Derek Carr, OL Rodney Hudson
63 – WR Amari Cooper
57 – WR Michael Crabtree
55 – WR Seth Roberts
50 – RB Latavius Murray
45 – TE Clive Walford
21 – OL Vadal Alexander
20 – TE Mychal Rivera
17 – RB Jalen Richard
12 – WR Andre Holmes
10 – FB Jamize Olawale
2 – RB Taiwan Jones, OL Menelik Watson
1 – WR Johnny Holton

DEFENSE
72 – LB Malcolm Smith, S Reggie Nelson
70 – CB Sean Smith, CB David Amerson
69 – LB Perry Riley
68 – LB Bruce Irvin, DE Khalil Mack
63 – DT Denico Autry
62 – DE Jihad Ward
41 – CB TJ Carrie
40 – S Nate Allen
33 – DT Dan Williams
20 – S Karl Joseph, NT Justin Ellis
11 – DE Brenden Jackson
8 – DE James Cowser
5 – LB Cory James

SPECIAL TEAMS
27 – Daren Bates
25 – TJ Carrie, Nate Allen
23 – Taiwan Jones, Andre Holmes, Brynden Trawick
22 – Keith McGill
21 – Jamize Olawale
19 – James Cowser
17 -- Tyrell Adams
13 – Sebatisan Janikowski
12 – Jon Condo, Marquette King
11 – Cory James, Jon Feliciano
10 – Jalen Richard, Branden Jackson
9 – Johnny Holton , Dexter McDonald
6 – Kelechi Osemele, Austin Howard, Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson, Clive Walford, Menelik Watson
4 – Bruce Irvin, Khalil Mack, Denico Autry, TJ Carrie, Dan Williams, Justin Ellis
 

NOTE: Snap counts taken from official NFL game book