ALAMEDA, Calif. — It happened again Sunday to Kolton Miller.
Same knee and all.
In the third quarter, the Raiders left tackle engaged an Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman on a DeAndre Washington carry near the goal line. Center Rodney Hudson fell to the ground, incidentally crashing into Miller’s right knee. The same knee Miller sprained during the second quarter in Week 4. The same knee Miller re-sprained during the first quarter in Week 9.
Following a brief exit, he finished the 23-21 win.
“What the docs are saying, with a sprain, the more you sprain it, the quicker you can come back,” Miller said. “That’s something I’ve learned, which is good, I guess. I guess you can call it ‘good.’ You can bounce back a little bit quicker.”
Miller is gaining experience with knee sprains and top NFL edge rushers. The rookie first-round pick dealt with both again Sunday versus Pro Bowl defensive end Chandler Jones. Coach Jon Gruden said that he’s impressed with the toughness the No. 15 overall pick has shown.
Three right knee sprains and one hyperextended right elbow are part of the laundry list of injuries Miller has suffered —and largely played through — this season. He has started every game. His only significant chunk of missed time occurred in the second half of a Week 9 blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Miller’s overall mental profile gives the Raiders confidence he can realize his potential in the coming years, as he continues to pack strength onto an athletic 6-foot-9 frame.
“It says a lot about him,” Gruden said. “It’s one thing to go out there and play hurt. It’s another thing to go out there and play winning football when you’re hurt. Not many guys can do that — not many young guys, especially. That’s why we made him our first-round pick. He’s got really good inner strength, mental strength, mental toughness. He’s a tough guy, and he’s showing it right now.”
—Running back Jalen Richard “might be the MVP of our team,” Gruden said. Richard has caught 51 of 59 passes for 432 yards, adding 29 carries for 118. Gruden likened him to former Raiders running back Charlie Garner. “He’s a guy that I think someday could run for 1,000 yards and catch 1,000 yards worth of passes.”
— Running back Doug Martin missed the second half to a second-quarter ankle injury. “I think he’ll be OK,” Gruden said.