Raiders coach Jon Gruden insisted the team will have a plan after corner kick Damon Arnette and security Jeff Heath were excluded for the crucial home game against the Colts on Sunday.
He admitted that he was tired of finding such alternatives.
“We’re going to have a contingency plan, but for now we’re fed up with contingency plans, to be honest,” he said on Friday. “We lost a lot of defensive players, especially in secondary school. We’ll use the next man as everyone says. “
Arnette was a starter and first choice and sustained head and neck injuries early in the last two games. Heath, who has played the most defensive snaps in safety in the last four games, was also disfellowshipped with a concussion.
Security colleague Johnathan Abram is in doubt after missing last week’s game and doing three limited training sessions this week with a knee injury.
Erik Harris, the former starter who was relegated to a substitute role in the previous two games, played every snap last week in Abram’s absence and should continue to see the lion’s share of the snaps on Sunday.
Cornerbacks Lamarcus Joyner and Isaiah Johnson also saw time safe, though Johnson is questionable with a groin injury. A special teamer Dallin Leavitt is also possible.
“Leavitt is a guy we’re ready to go fast,” said Gruden. “We’re running out of security. Hopefully Abram can play and stay healthy. Something he didn’t do. We need him to be the player we need. “
He’s not the only Raiders star sported a questionable label for Sunday’s game.
Josh Jacobs missed last week’s game with an ankle injury and was restricted in training on Thursday and Friday after missing Wednesday’s session.
Proper tackle Trent Brown has been in full training all week and has no injury designation in Sunday’s game despite Gruden’s cessation of ruling him. Brown has just finished his first full week of training and has not played since Oct. 11. He dealt with COVID-19 and a calf injury.
Gruden said he would like to see how Abram, Jacobs and especially Brown feel on Saturday before making a final decision, even though all three appear to be going in the right direction.
Brown’s return could help a running game that has been just 67 yards per game for the past three competitions. A healthy Jacobs wouldn’t hurt either.
“It’s always helpful to have your feature back,” said Gruden. “You don’t make a lot of guys like Josh Jacobs so hopefully he’s ready to go. If so, we’ll make sure we give him the ball. “
What the Raiders need from everyone else is an understanding of how important each game is at this point.
Sunday marks the start of a three-game home game that includes games against the Colts and Dolphins, two of the opponents ahead of the Raiders in the AFC wildcard race.
Not only does the game offer a chance to draw with Indianapolis in the overall standings as well, but it also offers an opportunity to own a tiebreaker that could very well be needed to see who’s doing the postseason.
“I think everyone has to have a sense of urgency in the NFL or you get knocked off the block,” said Gruden. “We have to play better in all phases. We have to train better. We have to be ready. There are a lot of chips on the table. “
■ Notes: Defensive End David Irving is unavailable this week due to an injury.
“I hope we’ll see him out here one day,” said Gruden.
The coach added that Marcus Mariota had won the weekly backup quarterback fight against Nathan Peterman and will be number 2 behind Derek Carr on Sunday.
“Mariota has a lot of playing experience and he played against the Colts,” said Gruden. “I hate to think about anything that ever happened to our quarterback, but Marcus is finally healthy. He’s proven that on the practice field over the past 10 days and hopefully those are good things for him because I think he’s a hell of a good quarterback. “
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