NAPA -– Raiders rookie tight end Clive Walford hasn’t practiced with the full squad in his first training camp. The third-round pick has missed nine straight practices after getting hurt during pre-camp workouts with rookies, quarterbacks and previously injured players.
That’s a long hiatus in camp time, where instruction is intense. That’s especially difficult for a rookie, who needs as much work as possible to integrate into a new system and the NFL game as a whole.
While Walford won’t be able to get that time back, he might not miss much more. He’s been working intermittently on the side during practice since the second practice, and he’s nearing a return to full action.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said Sunday that Walford is “very close” to practice ready. The Raiders have a scheduled off day on Monday and return to action on Tuesday afternoon. Del Rio didn’t offer a timetable for Walford’s return, but it could be as soon as Tuesday.
Mychal Rivera has worked with the first team as a receiving tight end in Walford’s absence. He’s performed predictably well, given that he’s worked extensively with quarterback Derek Carr from last season forward. Undrafted rookie Gabe Holmes has also shown some promise with extra snaps.
Walford was working with the first unit during the offseason program and expected to play a significant role in the Raiders offense. His absence doesn’t help that cause.
“No, that’s not preferred,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. “You can’t make up those days you miss. I know he’s working hard to get healthy and get back out here. So, we’re looking forward to that day.”