The Raiders had a number of linebackers exit Sunday’s 34-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings due to injury, and on Monday coach Jon Gruden said the team may have to add reinforcements.
That came to fruition Monday night, as the team signed Dakota Allen off the Los Angeles Rams practice squad, Allen’s agent confirmed.
A featured player in Season 2 of the Netflix series “Last Chance U,” Allen was drafted in the seventh round this year by the Rams. Los Angeles kept Allen on the practice squad after cutting him when reducing the roster to 53 players.
In three years at Texas Tech, Allen recorded 17.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and four interceptions.
The Raiders needed to add Allen because three linebackers may miss Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict left Sunday’s game with a right elbow injury, but returned. Outside linebacker Marquel Lee, who started Sunday, left with a left ankle injury and did not return. And Nicholas Morrow, who replaced Lee, also injured an ankle Sunday, playing just five defensive snaps.
With three injured players at a position that has only five on the active roster, Gruden admitted he’s a little concerned.
“You get worried when you have three of your linebackers come out of a game,” Gruden said. But he said general manager Mike Mayock and his staff “are working hard to come up with a contingency plan if we need to find a linebacker.”
After adding Allen, the Raiders will have to make a corresponding roster move. If they want to add another linebacker, the Raiders do have Justin Phillips on their practice squad. An undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State, Phillips spent the offseason program and preseason with the Dallas Cowboys before joining the Raiders at the start of the regular season.
External linebacker candidates could include Jason Cabinda, who is on the Lions’ practice squad after spending 2018 and the 2019 offseason with the Raiders. Free agent Brandon Marshall, a Las Vegas native, also spent the 2019 offseason and training camp with the club.
Offensive line health
After dealing with a sore knee in Week 3, right tackle Trent Brown is being evaluated for a right ankle injury. Brown appeared impacted by the injury during Sunday’s loss, exiting the game briefly in the fourth quarter before returning. He left the locker room postgame with a noticeable limp and a wrap on his right knee.
“Obviously he’s a big part of this team. We need him,” Gruden said. “But we don’t want to put anybody in danger.”
Right guard Gabe Jackson, however, is making steady progress with his injured left knee, according to Gruden. While Gruden said he doesn’t anticipate Jackson practicing this week, there’s a chance Jackson could practice during Week 5.
“He’s getting very close,” Gruden said.
Jackson injured his knee in early August during a joint training camp practice with the Los Angeles Rams.
Veteran linebacker Tahir Whitehead said following Sunday’s loss that the Raiders have to hold one another accountable and make sure no one is comfortable.
“If we don’t get this corrected, then it is going to be a long season,” Whitehead said. “We experienced a long season last year. I am not trying to go through the same thing and many others on this team will say the same thing.”
Asked about Whitehead’s comments on Monday, Gruden said he wasn’t going to get into the specifics of the issues.
“We had some breakdowns, no question. And you have breakdowns and penalties against good teams on the road, usually you lose the game, and that’s what happened,” Gruden said. “But in response to his questions, I’ll deal with him individually.”
Whitehead did seem optimistic that the Raiders can right the ship, saying he hasn’t seen warning signs that the team is headed down the same path as in 2018.
“We are more of a close-knit team,” Whitehead said. “We just have to play a complete game from start to finish in all three phases.”