ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Raiders’ secondary has grown accustomed to missing a cornerback or two each game.
This weekend, the unit expects a new challenge.
Starting strong safety Karl Joseph was listed as doubtful Friday for Sunday’s game at the Buffalo Bills. On Wednesday, he appeared on the injury report for the first time this season with a groin ailment. He did not practice Thursday or Friday.
Also, cornerbacks David Amerson (foot) and Gareon Conley (shin) were ruled out for Sunday.
The Raiders have three reserve safeties. They’ve played a combined 34 defensive snaps in seven games this season.
Coach Jack Del Rio indicated that Shalom Luani, a rookie seventh-round pick, will see increased work if Joseph misses time. Keith McGill II started the first two games of the 2016 season, as the Raiders eased Joseph into action as a rookie coming off an ACL tear. Erik Harris, a September signing, rounds out the club’s backup options.
Some intrigue surrounds Luani, who impressed this offseason as a quiet but steady learner with innate talents.
“He’s got great instincts and is a natural playmaker,” Del Rio said Friday. “He’s been champing at the bit for an opportunity if Karl doesn’t end up being able to go, then he’s excited to get his turn. … We’ve got guys that are prepared and ready to go. Obviously, you’d like to have your starter there. That’s why he’s the starter.
“We’re a next-man-up outfit. That’s how we’ll proceed with it. Shalom, obviously, is a young man that we’re excited about. He’s looking forward to getting a little more action than he’s had.”
For 2017, McGill leads the Raiders’ reserve safeties with 25 defensive snaps. Luani has five. Harris has four.
Joseph has missed five defensive snaps all season. Free safety Reggie Nelson is the Raiders’ only player who has been on the field for all 445 reps. He said he was unaware as to whether Luani might start.
“Shalom has been doing a good job since camp,” Nelson said. “I have no doubt in my mind that if they put him out there, he’ll perform. He made a lot of plays in the preseason. He’s still making plays for us. Whoever’s out there, I’ve got faith in our coaching staff that they’re going to be ready and we won’t skip a beat out there.”
— Punter Marquette King (right groin) was one of five Raiders players listed as questionable. Right tackle Marshall Newhouse (foot), linebacker Cory James (knee), linebacker Marquel Lee (ankle) and linebacker Nicholas Morrow (ankle) were the others.
— The Bills could be down a starting safety, too. Jordan Poyer (knee) did not practice all week and reportedly is a game-day decision. He’s officially listed as questionable. Tight end Charles Clay (knee), cornerback E.J. Gaines (hamstring) and linebacker Ramon Humber (thumb) are out.
Raiders at Bills
When: 10 a.m. Sunday
Where: New Era Field, Orchard Park, N.Y.
TV/Radio: KLAS-8; KDWN-AM (720), KCYE-FM (102.7)
Line: Bills -2 1/2; total 45 1/2