ALAMEDA – Mario Edwards Jr. was out with his Raiders teammates for the offseason’s first OTA session. He had a helmet on, rotating in during individual and team drills. The second-year defensive lineman stretched with the group, and then made a quiet exit.
Edwards Jr. wasn’t around for the bulk of this session, his first practice since suffering a significant neck injury late last year. Edwards Jr. said he was finally cleared to play football earlier this month, but wasn’t deemed ready for a full workload at this early stage.
Head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t delve into Edwards Jr.’s status, and didn’t agree that the Raiders were bringing him along slowly.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Del Rio said after Tuesday’s practice. “I don’t say much about injuries, but I would say that guys who aren’t working right now are doing everything they can to get back and be a part of this. They all want to go.”
There was a notable amount of players absent from Tuesday’s OTA work. Along with Edwards Jr., right tackle Austin Howard and nose tackle Dan Williams bowed out after individual drills. Tight end Clive Walford, linebackers Malcolm Smith and Neiron Ball, cornerback Neiko Thorpe and safety Karl Joseph were spectators during practice. Running back Roy Helu Jr., safety Reggie Nelson and defensive lineman Denico Autry weren’t present during the workout.
“There’s a process that has to take place for each of them to return, and they’re all different,” Del Rio said. “I’m not going to go through each one, and I’m not going to make Mario an exception. They’re all here, they’re all working hard and they’re all eager to return. We feel good about having those guys be able to join us at some point not too far away.”