Oakland Raiders 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley was picked to help their leaky secondary. But there hasn’t been much good news surrounding him since a grand jury didn’t charge him with rape. He’s been out since the first day of mini-camp approximately two months ago with a shin injury.
Shin-splints, general manager Reggie McKenzie’s unqualified diagnosis, is now ruled out. The injury is in Conley’s shin but it’s much more severe than shin-splints be it that it’s been two months. And with the Raiders struggling in the secondary, the good news is that he’s been cleared for running.
However, he’s not practicing so he’s unlikely to see the field Saturday vs the Los Angeles Rams. It doesn’t look likely that he’ll play in the third preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys either. The third preseason game is the dress rehearsal so it would be nice to see him get some reps there.
Be it that he’s a rookie, it would actually be nice to see him get some reps in any preseason game. But all the time Conley has been out indicates just how severe that injury to his shin was. Head Coach Jack Del Rio Sounded as if the injury wouldn’t keep him out much longer and he would be back soon.
But I remember hearing that about Mario Edwards Jr. last year and he missed darn-near the whole season. We saw how much the team missed him as the Raiders didn’t have an interior pass rush. They finished last in the league in sacks despite having NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack because of it.
And believe me, the Raiders would miss Conley in the secondary as badly as they missed Edwards last year. So they must be careful about when they try to bring him in and get him started. Meanwhile, the Raiders have Sean Smith and-or T.J. Carrie starting in his place at one of the cornerback spots.
Neither of them has shown that they have elevated their respective games from where they were last year. That puts a ton of pressure on fellow CB David Amerson to return to his 2015 form. The Raiders have interior defensive lineman Mario Edward back to bring that interior pressure.
And stay rookie DEF-INT Eddie Vanderdoes looks like the truth so that’s a double down on the interior. So along with edge rusher Bruce Irvin, they will help EDGE Khalil Mack rush the passer. The Raiders look better at linebacker too with Marquel Lee against the run and Corey James all around.
Now, how good the Raiders defense is this year depends on a secondary that only has safety Karl Joseph looking good. So the Raiders have a lot riding on how soon Conley can get on the field.
It’s a good sign that he’s running now.