ALAMEDA – The Raiders hoped second-round draft pick Obi Melifonwu would make an immediate impact. That won’t happen now.
For the season’s first half at least.
The safety was placed on injured reserve Tuesday afternoon, meaning he can’t return until Week 9 at the earliest.
Melifonwu had knee surgery last week, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, which forced the Raiders to put him on the shelf. He was sidelined most of training camp with an ankle injury, but was deemed healthy enough to play the third exhibition game at Dallas. That was the last game he played. Meifonwu wasn’t present for the exhibition finale against Seattle.
Meifonwu can practice after six weeks on IR and can play after eight weeks. Any layoff is a setback for the Raiders defense, which was counting on Melifonwu to at least be a hybrid safety/linebacker in the dime package. He was drafted primarily to help cover tight ends and running backs, areas of weakness the past few seasons. That role could fall to undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow, who played Melifonwu's spot while the UConn product was out in training camp. They could also stick with a linebacker there, using Tyrell Adams in the sub package.
In added roster news, the Raiders also placed offensive lineman Denver Kirkland on injured reserve. The tackle/guard had foot surgery after the first preseason game, and expects to return this season.
Thed Raiders signed safety Erik Harris and linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster to the 53-man roster in corresponding moves.
Harris joins the Raiders after spending the 2016 season with New Orleans. He played action in four games. Prior to signing with New Orleans, Harris played three seasons in Canada with the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Woodson-Luster was with the Raiders during the preseason, and flashed in the exhibition finale versus Seattle.