ALAMEDA – Mario Edwards Jr. is on injured reserve recovering from a hip strain, though the Raiders expect him to return later this season.
He has to be on IR for six weeks before he can practice and eight weeks before he can play.
That may be a bit longer that Edwards Jr.’s recovery timetable, but it’s a move the Raiders believed they had to make to maintain roster stability.
“It’s a matter of timing, and the best thing for him to be completely healed,” head coach Jack Del Rio said before Wednesday’s practice. “There’s a chance that, a month-and-a-half from now he’s going to be saying he’s ready to go. There might be a game or two where he might have been ready, but it was a decision we felt was sound and solid.”
Jihad Ward has moved from the interior to Edwards Jr.’s end spot, though Denico Autry will also be a factor there. Dan Williams will help on the interior in the base defense, with Ward and Autry shuffling in on passing downs. Bruce Irvin will often be an end on passing downs.
Del Rio on depth chart shuffling: The Raiders released their first depth chart on Tuesday, with some changes contained within. Nate Allen being elevated over Karl Joseph at strong safety was a surprise.
“For us, it’s all about competition,” Del Rio said. “You get what you earn. We like the way Karl is working. The same can be said for anyone on our team who is not starting.
“We’re going to play a lot of people. Everybody is preparing. Everybody is ready to play. We’ll let it unfold.”
Taiwan’s role: The Raiders didn’t use running back/return man Taiwan Jones much during the preseason, leaving his role on the team as somewhat of a mystery.
“We know what we have in Taiwan, and we’re anxious to let him do his thing,” Del Rio said. “He’s a special teams ace, a gifted return guy and an explosive player on offense. We’ve spent more time learning about our other backs, our other players.”
Still at 52: The Raiders haven’t made a corresponding move to fill Mario Edwards Jr., and may not be in a rush to do so. They are healthy, and may not need a 53rd body right away, knowing already which 46 players will be active Sunday against the Saints. It’s uncertain when that roster spot will be filled.