ALAMEDA _ The rookie season of defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. is over.
When and if Edwards returns to action is an open question after coach Jack Del Rio said Wednesday the neck injury the rookie sustained against Green Bay was of a serious nature.
“He had a significant injury,” Del Rio said. “We want to make sure we do what’s best for him first. Just hoping for the best. But (we’re) really most concerned with him right now. Other things going forward, we’ll worry about that later. But it’s significant, what he has.”
When asked if Edwards would need surgery, Del Rio said, “I’m not sure of that. I think they’re still trying to determine how the treatment should proceed”.
Edwards lasted just three snaps against the Packers, was removed from the game and did not return. He was injured on a 2-yard gain from Eddy Lacy on Green Bay’s second play from scrimmage, beating a block from tackle David Bahktari and appearing to have his neck twisted as he shed the block.
He was on the field for one more play, but did not return after Green Bay punted. Defensive tackle Dan Williams said he’s talked to Edwards, who didn’t seem overly concerned.
“Mario seemed optimistic, he just had to see what the actual issue was,” Williams said. “He has this thing going on with his neck but we don’t know the extent of the seriousness. But he was walking, talking, cool. Just being his regular self _ joking with us.”
Edwards, a second-round draft pick out of Florida State, finished with 2.5 sacks but had become a key member of the Raiders defensive line. His sack number was similar to that of Khalil Mack as a rookie in that it didn’t necessarily represent the pressure Edwards was getting on the quarterback.
“Sometimes I don’t think Mario even knows how strong he is,” Williams said. “I think a lot of times teams had to game plan him like they did for Mack. He might have the number of sacks or the stats, but he affects games at the line of scrimmage. They have to account for him because he’s a very powerful guy and he’s got a load of potential he hasn’t even tapped in to yet.”
With Williams out, defensive linemen such as Denico Autry and Benson Mayowa may see more snaps.
“(Denico) will be accounted on to play an even bigger role, and a few other guys will have to step up as well,” Del Rio said.
Autry was back at practice Friday after missing Thursday’s session in a non-injury related issue.
With Edwards out, the Raiders were expected to promote linebacker John Lotulelei from the practice squad.
— S Nate Allen (knee) was listed as out. CB Neiko Thorpe (neck) is questionable. Listed as probable were Woodson (shoulder), WR Seth Roberts (abdomen), WR Amari Cooper (foot) and DE Khalil Mack (knee).