ALAMEDA -- Raiders rookie linebacker Neiron Ball has missed six straight games with a knee injury, a longer absence than the team originally expected. Even after all this time, progress isn’t coming quickly enough to assure his return this season.
There are just four regular season games remaining, which might not be enough time to get the fifth-round selection back in action.
Head coach Jack Del Rio said during his Monday press conference that Ball is a strong candidate for season-ending injured reserve.
“It will be tough for him to make it back,” Del Rio said. “We’ll keep trying (to rehab) and see where it goes. We have a month left and we were hopeful we’d have him back by now. It doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case.
“At some point here, we’re going to have to make a decision.”
That decision is whether to end Ball’s season for good. That isn’t ideal for a coaching staff looking to provide experience for young talent as the regular season winds down. The Raiders don’t have a great shot at the playoffs after Sunday’s home loss to Kansas City, but those games can be spent nurturing players toward a brighter future.
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Ball played well before getting hurt. He was always solid on special teams, but did well as a coverage linebacker when given the opportunity. That time was brief, as he got hurt shortly after his defensive role was expanded.
Allen day-to-day: Raiders safety Nate Allen reinjured the knee that put him on short-term injured reserve earlier this season. This time, the outlook isn’t quite so bad. Del Rio considered Allen day-to-day after tests from earlier Monday were good.
“The tests came back negative, so there’s nothing major going on,” Del Rio said. “He’ll be day-to-day in terms of how sore that is with that injury.”