The Raiders placed second-year defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. on injured reserve Monday, costing him at least half of the 2016 season.
Edwards injured his hip early in the first exhibition game of the season, an ailment that didn’t require surgery and was expected to initially sideline him 4-6 weeks.
But the Raiders appear to be taken extra caution with the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Edwards, the team’s second-round pick in 2015. By going on IR, Edwards must sit out for at least the first six weeks of the season. He could then return to practice, but would have to miss at least eight games before he could play again. He could return to practice beginning Oct. 17 and the first game he’d be eligible is Nov. 6 against the Denver Broncos.
The NFL this year removed the requirement that teams designate a player to return at the time they are placed on IR. Instead, a team has the option to activate one player per season from injured reserve but they must miss at least six weeks of practice and eight weeks overall.
Edwards had a strong rookie season with 41 tackles, 2.0 sacks, three passes defended and three forced fumbles. He made 10 starts and played in every game until suffering a serious neck injury Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers. His future was in question for much of the early offseason before he received medical clearance to return.
Versatile enough to play both inside and outside on the Raiders flexible defensive front, Edwards showed signs of being a stout run defender with an ability to rush the passer last season.
The Raiders have depth on their defensive line, but Edwards is one of the more key members of that line and a solid starter when healthy. It’s likely either Dan Williams or Denico Autry moves into the starting lineup in his place. The Raiders will release an updated depth chart on Tuesday.
The team also added defensive end Jason Fanaika and linebacker Curtis Grant to fill up their practice squad. They also have an open spot on the active roster to fill in Edwards’ place.