Raiders target ex-Bengals safety George Iloka in free agency

Updated August 20, 2018 - 9:06 pm

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Since March, the Raiders have signed several defenders who played under coordinator Paul Guenther with the Cincinnati Bengals.

They hope to add another.

The team plans to make a run at safety George Iloka, whom the Bengals released Sunday, a person familiar with the situation said Monday morning. Talks were considered preliminary, with no contract imminent.

Should he sign, Iloka projects to start in the Sept. 10 opener against the Los Angeles Rams. His familiarity with Guenther’s scheme likely would enable a smooth transition. Iloka started 76 games the past six seasons under Guenther.

Safety Reggie Nelson, cornerback Leon Hall, linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and defensive end Frostee Rucker also are ex-Bengals.

Three weeks before the opener, the Raiders’ safety position remains in flux.

Marcus Gilchrist returned to practice Monday, providing a boost to the group. He, Nelson, Karl Joseph and Erik Harris have seen first-team reps this offseason. It’s unclear who will start in Week 1.

“Well, it’s very competitive,” coach Jon Gruden said. “I think Erik Harris has had a good camp. I think Marcus Gilchrist has been a good player. … Reggie Nelson certainly, Karl Joseph give us four guys that have been working in the rotation. But we haven’t settled on anything yet.”

One thing does seem settled.

Obi Melifonwu, a 2017 second-round pick, does not appear to be in the Raiders’ plans. He last practiced two weeks ago and is dealing with an unspecified lower-body injury that Gruden said Monday is “still being evaluated.” Melifonwu is coming off December hip surgery. He also missed the first half of his rookie season after arthroscopic knee surgery last August.

The severity of Melifonwu’s ailment is unclear.

Before it arose, perhaps more than any other Raiders defender, he stood to be a potential trade candidate.

Back home

The Raiders practiced at their Alameda headquarters Monday for the first time since a June 12-14 minicamp.

Quarterback Derek Carr said it was “good to be home” from training camp in Napa, California.

“To be with the wife and kids is always better than stuck in a hotel,” Carr said. “But I think you just get more into the game mode, whereas training camp is Groundhog Day. I don’t care who you are: You’re just trying to make a team. I will never think any differently. … But when you come here and now, we’re ready to hit the season. You’re in game preparation mode.”

Notable

— Cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring), safety Tevin Mitchel, cornerback Dexter McDonald, offensive tackle Breno Giacomini and running back DeAndre Washington were among the Raiders players who didn’t practice Monday.

— Gruden said that he’d oppose if the NFL made its new, controversial lowering-helmet tackle rule subject to instant replay. “If we do any more replays, we’re going to be out there for all night,” Gruden said. “We’ll be out there all day and all night. Like I said before, I don’t care if people don’t agree with me: I don’t like instant replay. I don’t like it. … I think if you keep challenging everything, pretty soon we’re never going to play football. The game is going to last forever.”

More Raiders: Follow all of our Raiders coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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