ALAMEDA, Calif. — Seemingly throughout a given day, Jon Feliciano exudes the sort of swagger one might expect to find moments before a 1 a.m. bar fight. He smiles with a crooked, confident grin. He says what is on his mind. And at a moment’s notice, should a physical situation arise, he is ready.
There is a fearless invincibility to him.
That is what made Oct. 14 so noticeable.
The Raiders center/guard exited a game against the Seattle Seahawks in London. His first-quarter departure alone was rare. A greater irregularity developed when the team quickly announced he would not return. Certainly, for Feliciano to be promptly ruled out, there was serious concern.
His ribs were injured and he was transported to a local hospital.
“I couldn’t breathe,” Feliciano said. “They were kind of worried about that.”
Feliciano is an insurance policy the franchise has been fortunate to carry in recent years. Off the bench, behind arguably the NFL’s top interior line, the 2015 fourth-round pick has provided starter-caliber reps at center and both guard positions. He further demonstrated his value this past month when filling in for Pro Bowl left guard Kelechi Osemele.
The Raiders’ resident enforcer could have eight games left in his tenure.
Due to become a free agent in March, he figures to command a market and role reflective of his abilities.
“He is a starter,” said right guard Gabe Jackson. “For one, he’s always ready, mentally and physically ready. He’s grimy — in a good way. Some people say ‘grimy’ in a negative way, but he’s a grinder. He’s going to work. … He’s got this, ‘I don’t care mindset,’ as in fear nothing, fear nobody. And I like it and respect it because you’ve got to have that attitude.
“Anybody would be lucky to have him. They’re going to get a lot from him.”
His injury came on the team’s third offensive play.
The Raiders went uptempo, their game plan to establish the run with a string of Marshawn Lynch carries. But there was a miscommunication, and Feliciano did not properly engage a Seattle lineman. A couple seconds later, some traffic formed around Lynch during which Feliciano was tapped from multiple angles.
The rib injury occurred along the way.
Feliciano returned for the next series, but it would be his final one of the game. A hospital visit was required to determine whether he sustained lung damage, hence why he couldn’t catch his breath. Tests were negative. He returned to the stadium, just in time for a bus ride to the airport and the Raiders’ return flight to Oakland.
After the ensuing bye week, Feliciano started a third straight game for Osemele and dominated against the Indianapolis Colts.
He has not undergone an MRI since the injury.
“Worry about it later,” Feliciano said. “You don’t get these opportunities much when K.O. is down. You’ve got to make the most of it because he’s also a warrior. If he can play, he will play.”
Osemele returned to the lineup last week versus the San Francisco 49ers.
Feliciano stepped in as a reserve following multiple injuries to the line’s left side.
Perhaps in four months, he will be a starter in another franchise’s locker room. Teammates will acclimate themselves to Feliciano as the Raiders have. They know what to suspect from him, such as in August when the club held two joint practices with the Detroit Lions.
On Day 2, when the sidelines cleared around 10 a.m, you-know-who was in the middle of it.
It was 1 a.m. somewhere.
“He’s definitely scrappy,” tackle Ian Silberman said. “He’s one of those guys you’d love to have on your team because he’s going to give everything he has.”