ALAMEDA – Kaluka Maiava practiced Monday for the first time since the July 27. What was always considered a “minor” ankle injury stretched out nearly a month to the day and hurt both player and team dearly.
The veteran free agent was acquired this offseason but hasn’t assimilated into the Raiders defense as planned. He can play both outside linebacker spots, but hasn’t fit in to just one. At this late point in the season, a starting spot is unrealistic.
He’ll support Sio Moore on the strong side and Kevin Burnett on the weak side, adding depth to a position group with little support.
This week offers an opportunity to evaluate Maiava and see how he fits in the scheme.
“I think it’s important,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “I’ve got a pretty good feel in what we have with Kaluka, but I do want to see him go out and play, and I’m hopeful that he’ll have an opportunity to do that on Thursday night.”
Maiava has been waiting impatiently for the opportunity to do something. It’s been a longer-than-expected wait, but he’s finally ready to practice and possibly play Thursday against Seattle.
With time running out on this preseason, Maiava accelerated his rehab timetable to get back on the field and prove himself worthy of a spot in the linebacker rotation.
“I was so tired of being locked up in the training room,” Maiava said. “I know I have a lot of catching up to do, and I'm ready to getting going. My teammates have been grinding this whole camp and I’ve been feeling left out and that I’ve been letting them down so I feel real great to be back and moving around and get the season started.”
Evaluating Watson: Menelik Watson is playing left tackle this week for the first time in his life. It’s a precarious position to be sure, but the Raiders need to see what he can do there before the regular season. Despite his inexperience, Allen believes he’s up to the tall task.
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“We drafted him high because we think he’s a good player,” Allen said. “He’s got a lot of potential, and at some point we’ve got to find out about this guy. We feel like that’s the best option, for us to go ahead and put him over on that left side, and let’s see what he can do.”
Bair released: The Raiders reached an injury settlement with defensive lineman Brandon Bair, who was waived-injured on Monday. The Raiders announced what was reported Sunday, that offensive lineman Alex Parsons was also waived-injured.
The Raiders must release three more players by 1 p.m. on Tuesday to reach a new 75-man roster limit.
Getting healthier: Strong safety Tyvon Branch returned from a ribs injury and could play if he sustains health throughout the week. Cornerback Tracy Porter practiced for the second straight day and is expected to play against the Seahawks after sitting out last week.
New injuries: None.
Returning from injuries: OLB Kaluka Maiava (ankle), SS Tyvon Branch (ribs)
Still sidelined: WR Rod Streater (concussion), TE David Ausberry (shoulder), RB Latavius Murray (ankle), LT Jared Veldheer (triceps), WR Brice Butler (hamstring).
Physically unable to perform list: LB Miles Burris (knee)
Quote of the day: “Terrelle is a player you can get behind. He texts us on the regular and leaves notes telling us to make big plays. He’s having fun out there, and you can see it in the way he plays.” -- receiver Jacoby Ford on quarterback Terelle Pryor