Note: Blog crashed yesterday as I was posting this so apologies for the delay.
ALAMEDA — The Raiders designated Mario Edwards Jr. to return from injured reserve and the defensive end practiced Monday for the first time since training camp.
“It felt good just to get back out there with those guys,” Edwards said afterwards. “Even if it is a practice, just to get back out there, the camaraderie and things like that definitely felt good.”
The Raiders held only a light walk-through as they recover from Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills and prepare on the short week to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.
Edwards, out since an Aug. 12 with a hip injury suffered in the first exhibition game, now has a 21-day window in which he can practice. The Raiders can activate him to the roster at any time during the window, but he said there’s no formal target date for when he’ll play in a game.
“I’m a little different so I don’t really know,” Edwards said. “We don’t really have a date on it. It’s just more so how I’m feeling and how it’s healing.”
The 2015 second-round pick started doing some work on the field last week and the Raiders were hopeful he could graduate to suiting up at practice. If they don’t activate him by the end of the 21-day window, he’ll have to spend the rest of the season on injured reserve and the Raiders lose the right to activate anybody else from IR.
Edwards, who had 42 tackles and two sacks last season as a rookie before a Week 15 neck injury, was initially only expected to miss about six weeks with the injury, but the symptoms continued longer than expected. He’s been eligible to practice as of Week 7 and could’ve begun playing in Week 9.
“This was a freaky kind of situation, so it was just more so giving it rest and let it heal,” Edwards said of his four-month absence.
It’s extremely unlikely Edwards could be ready to go by Thursday’s game against the Chiefs considering he hasn’t practiced in nearly four months. The best possible scenario would seem to have him ready for limited duty by the Dec. 18 game against the San Diego Chargers.
It’s been a long year for Edwards, who suffered a serious neck injury in Week 15 of last season that kept him out the rest of the year and created some questions about his football future. That made this injury all the tougher because it occurred in the first quarter of his first game back.
“It sucked,” Edwards said, “but everything happens for a reason. I’m healing up great and I’m looking forward to coming back to playing.”
— The Raiders didn’t take any snaps from under center in Sunday’s 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills. While quarterback Derek Carr played with a splint on his injured right pinkie, Del Rio said it was a game plan decision.
“That was our plan going in,” Del Rio said. “We’ll put together another plan this week, and I’m not going to divulge whether it’s going to be that or he’ll go back under. Obviously, you saw that we operated just fine. He’s comfortable either way, really.”
— Del Rio still did not have any further updates on suspended outside linebacker Aldon Smith. The latest report from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is that Smith is setting up a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “or high-ranking official to state his case for reinstatement.”
Rapoport reported on Sunday that the Raiders were “not counting on his return.” The meeting with Goodell is one of the major steps toward a possible reinstatement from his Stage Three banishment from the league.
— Rookie running back DeAndre Washington was a healthy inactive for the second straight week as the Raiders have gone with Jalen Richard as the team’s primary backup. With Richard also handling return duties and Taiwan Jones serving in a special teams role and getting some limited offensive work, Washington has been on the wrong side of the crunch to get to 46 active players.
“I told him there’s nothing that he did,” Del Rio said. “It’s a shame that you have to put some of these healthy guys down. You like them as players. They work so hard during the week and they’re ready to roll, but that’s the way it’s mandated.”
— Rookie safety Karl Joseph didn’t practice Monday after suffering a toe injury against the Buffalo Bills. Del Rio wouldn’t rule him out for Thursday’s game — “I would say he has a shot” — but the coach did say Joseph currently has a boot on his injured foot.
Defensive tackles Darius Latham (ankle) and Stacy McGee (ankle) and linebacker Shilique Calhoun (knee) also didn’t practice, while left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) and linebacker Cory James (shoulder) were limited.
— The initial Pro Bowl voting results were released Monday and Carr is fifth overall in voting while defensive end Khalil Mack, left tackle Donald Penn, Osemele, fullback Jamize Olawale, free safety Reggie Nelson and punter Marquette King all lead at their positions.