ALAMEDA – Raiders center Rodney Hudson suffered a sprained ankle late in Sunday’s 38-35 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, head coach Jack Del Rio revealed in his Monday press conference.
The injury occurred with roughly seven minutes to play, while Hudson was blocking for a Marcel Reece run.
Del Rio didn’t discuss the severity of the sprain, but these injuries can keep a player out of action. It’s a much better option than finding a fracture, but X-rays were negative. A sprain can be an issue that impacts playing for a while.
“Well, they’re all bad if you get removed from the game,” Del Rio said. “We’ll know more about it as the week progresses.”
The Raiders need Hudson to heal fast. He has been the offensive line’s best, most versatile weapon thus far. He is excellent in blitz pickup, solid creating space on the interior and athletic enough to get outside and block in space.
Tony Bergstrom is his backup, and played offense on Sunday for the first time since 2012. Injuries and depth chart placement have kept him out of action. He found a role as a backup center this offseason, but the drop-off between Hudson and Bergstrom, relatively new to the position, is stark.
According to analytics site Pro Football Focus, Hudson is the NFL’s best pass blocking center, and grades out extremely well paving paths in the run game.
Encouraging signs for Murray: Raiders running back Latavius Murray was concussed during Sundays’ loss to the Steelers. He must pass a series of tests within the NFL’s concussion protocol, but Del Rio said early portions had gone well.
“He’s done well thus far early on,” Del Rio said. “All signs are pretty positive there.”
Murray has a ways to go before being cleared to practice and play following a heavy helmet-to-helmet hit from former Raider, current Steelers safety Mike Mitchell.
Del Rio said he didn’t have a problem with Mitchell’s hit.
“I think running back, it’s a very physical position that they’re in where you have 11 guys chasing you all the time,” Del Rio said. “They’re going to have some of that happen from time to time.”
Carrie, Allen set be ready: Defensive back TJ Carrie missed the Steelers game with shoulder and hip issues. The Raiders ruled him out Saturday, and added depth by signing Tevin McDonald. They sorely missed him during a game where they gave up 597 yards of offense and 284 to receiver Antonio Brown.
“TJ is a good player for us,” Del Rio said. “Anytime you don’t have anybody, you’re doing the best you can with other guys. We believe in the next man up and just playing on and don’t dwell on it, but reality is we would have loved to have had him.”
Del Rio said Carrie should be ready to play next week against Minnesota. The same goes for safety Nate Allen, who is eligible and ready to come off short-term IR and play the Vikings. The return of two starters should give the secondary a real boost heading into an important game.
Del Rio wants 29 seconds back: The Raiders chose to kneel out the clock at the end of the first half despite having 29 seconds, three timeouts and cannon-armed quarterback Derek Carr at his disposal. The logic was sound. Why risk a big mistake when the Raiders were getting the ball to start the second half.
“As I sit here today, I kind of kick myself for not taking advantage of that,” Del Rio said. “I think there was an opportunity to do more there, to be more aggressive there. My feeling at the moment was that offensively, we hadn’t really thrown it really well in the first half. I just didn’t want to have exposure right there that might lead to a bad thing going in, but really in hindsight, if I had that to do over again, I’d go ahead and take a couple of shots there and utilize our timeouts and play that aggressively. Again, that’s one of the things as I look back at yesterday, things that, hey, how could I be better? I felt like I could have been better in that moment.”