ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley wanted to play Sunday’s regular-season opener against Tennessee, get his feet wet at least. The Raiders considered siding with him.
They ultimately held Conley out, exercising patience with their first-round pick. The Ohio State cornerback missed the entire preseason slate with a shin injury and has practiced but a few times since coming off the physically unable to perform list.
He was limited all last week. Conley still wanted to play, even if it wasn't a full workload.
“He has been chomping at the bit, so to speak,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Last week he was a bit disappointed that we weren’t going to play him. I assured him I thought it was imperative we do the right thing by him. When I felt he was ready, we would play him. Until then, I want him to do what he can and prepare accordingly. We’ll make a decision when we think it’s right.”
The Raiders don’t want an injury setback. They don’t want to put Conley out there unprepared. It takes time for rookie to warm-up, even under the best of circumstances.
Another productive week could make Conley’s NFL debut possible Sunday against the New York Jets. There are a few hurdles remaining, but their clearable. While a veteran might be able to pop into the lineup, that isn’t possible for a newbie.
“It’s a little different than Donald Penn, right? He has over a decade of experience starting and this is his third year in our system,” Del Rio said. “It’s a lot different than a guy coming in as a rookie and missing so much of training camp. We need to see more from him, on the field and practicing full speed, and the conditioning level so he can protect himself, and effectiveness, because we want him to play well. Those are all factors. He’s doing all he needs to do.”