ALAMEDA – Raiders defensive tackle Vance Walker continues making strides after suffering a concussion Dec. 8 against the New York Jets.
Walker was cleared for meetings on Thursday and practice on Friday morning, leaving one more hurdle between him and a start on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
His return would hold great benefit against a potent Chargers offense. He’s a factor against the run and provides interior pass-rush ability.
Walker must be cleared for contact to use those gifts, and he won’t take the final test of the NFL’s concussion-related protocol until late Saturday.
“He’s close to a return,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “He still has another step that he’s got to go through, so we’ll evaluate him tomorrow. He’ll be a game-time decision.”
Walker has been a solid contributor throughout the season, a easily living up to his 1-year, $2 million contract. He has 43 tackles and three sacks in his first year as a Raider. Walker has been a stout, versatile lineman who can play tackle and end on running downs.
If he can’t go, Pat Sims’ snaps will increase. So will the playing time of tackle Stacy McGee and end Jason Hunter.
Montgomery to IR: The Raiders signed defensive end Sam Montgomery to the practice squad on Tuesday. He practiced one time and injured his knee. Montgomery was placed on practice-squad injured reserve on Thursday, which allows the Raider to retain his rights until roster limits expanded to 90 after Week 17 for non-playoff-bound teams.
The Raiders wanted to evaluate a third-round draft pick and former college All-American who carries some baggage. Montgomery was released by the Houston Texans near midseason for violating team policy. He showed up to offseason rookie activities and training camp out of shape, leading many to consider him a bust.
The Raider brought him in for a closer look, to see if he’s changed his ways.
“He was someone we want to look at, and what better way to do so than bring him into the building,” Allen said. “It was really a low-risk proposition.”
Raiders Status Report
RB Darren McFadden (hamstring), RB Jeremy Stewart (knee, ankle),
RB Jeremy Stewart (knee, ankle) Questionable
DT Vance Walker (concussion), LB Miles Burris (ankle)
TE Jeron Mastrud (wrist), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), G Lucas Nix (illness), S Charles Woodson (ribs), OLB Sio Moore (illness)
Chargers Status Report
WR Eddie Royal (toe), FB Le’Ron McClain (hamstring)
RB Ryan Mathews (foot), WR Keenan Allen (shoulder), T D.J. Fluker (ankle), OLB Jarret Johnson (hand), FS Eric Weddle (hamstring), CB Shareece Wright (foot), ILB Bront Bird (ankle)