The Raiders could be missing, like, their best guys heading into their showdown with the Patriots.
The New England Patriots will be heavily favored entering their battle with upstart Raiders this week no matter what.
But as injury news trickles over from the Las Vegas side, the line is threatening to move from “Yeah, Pretty Good” to “Pound the Pats”.
According to those on site today, neither second-year running back Josh Jacobs nor star tight end Darren Waller made an appearance at practice, leaving both of their statuses in doubt for the crucial matchup. With the Raiders perhaps carrying the momentum edge from Foxborough following their Monday night win over the Saints, this could halt such things pretty quickly.
Jacobs is a powerful back, but Waller would be the major loss here.
An emerging star, he currently seems like the antidote to the Pats’ coverage scheme. In fact, the Patriots lost so many of their coverage options for punishing tight end weapons this offseason that Bill Belichick even placed a call to Aqib Talib asking if he’d like to give it another go and blanket the league’s strongest TEs.
When he saw New England’s early slate, featuring luminaries like Waller, George Kittle, and Travis Kelce, he passed.
The bruiser is also coming off one of the greatest games of his young career, during which he emerged on the national scene as more than just an excellent story, overcoming addiction to rise again in the NFL.
Waller’s presence will likely not be a make-or-break for the Patriots’ chances of overwhelming the Raiders in this one, but if he’s absent, that would probably doom the road team in this one.
Any time Bill Belichick has fewer players to key in on stopping, and his opponent’s best hope is basically a distillation of, “We won last week!”, that rarely goes well.
James White and David Andrews were among the notable Patriots to miss practicing in full on Thursday, as well. Expect very few updates on all players’ statuses prior to Sunday morning.