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ALAMEDA -– Placing middle linebacker Nick Roach on season-ending injured reserve wasn’t something the Raiders wanted to do.
It was something they had to do.
Symptoms from a concussion suffered Aug. 22 lingered into their seventh week and, on Wednesday, the Raiders believed it was time to throw in the towel.
“It was a hard decision to make, one that we felt at this particular time was in the best interest of the team,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “After consulting with our doctors and other doctors at this point in time, it was a decision that we needed to make.
“He’s been gone an awful long period of time, and there were indications that he wasn’t getting a whole lot better.”
Roach wasn’t available for comment on Wednesday afternoon, but he admitted a few weeks ago to having two or three concussions in his five seasons with the Chicago Bears. He didn’t consider this one any worse than the others, though it certainly was.
It continued to have headaches during physical exertion, and was never fully cleared for contact. His loss will felt throughout the squad, especially within the linebacker corps.
“Nick is a friend before anything else. I pray for him and wish him the best,” said weakside linebacker Sio Moore, who considers Roach a mentor. “I know he’d rather be here than anywhere else. We have to take him out there with us whenever we play, because he’s been an intricate part of this defense and of me being where I’m at now as a player and a person.
“Nick was a guy who led straight by example. He didn’t say much unless you made a point to go to him. He’s a leader, but we have to adjust and we have to make it work. He would want that. We have to move forward and continue to grow and progress as a unit.”
That must happen, but it doesn’t take away the sting of losing him for the season. There was always hope for improvement, but the lingering symptoms and the injury situation at linebacker expedited the move.
The Raiders lose their on-field coordinator, and a productive player who had 152 tackles, 5.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and an interception in 2013.
“It’s certainly a blow, no question about it,” Sparano said. “Nick was one of our defensive leaders, a guy that we rely an awful lot on. But, it’s one of the body blows that goes on in our business. … We haven’t had Nick for quite some time, and we’ve had to move on in that situation, but it’s hard whenever you lose a veteran player like that. Nick Roach is one of the classiest men and one of the best pros I’ve been around.”