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Barring setback, 2 key Raiders could return to offense

Updated December 12, 2022 - 3:59 pm

After a mini-break following a gut-wrenching loss, the Raiders get back to work on Wednesday in preparation for their home game against the New England Patriots.

Provided everything goes as planned, there is a good chance a couple of familiar faces will join them. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, things are trending toward tight end Darren Waller and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow being designated to return to practice after spending the last five weeks on the injured reserve list.

If so, the Raiders (5-8) would have up to 21 days to decide whether to activate them on the 53-man roster, although it is conceivable that distinction could be made in time for them to play against the Patriots.

Waller has played in just five games this season and hasn’t played since injuring his hamstring against the Chiefs on Oct. 10.

Renfrow has played in just six games after dealing with an early-season concussion and an oblique injury that landed him on the injured reserve list on Nov 10.

While the Raiders’ playoff chances took a major hit after blowing a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead in a devastating loss to the Rams on Thursday, they still have an outside chance of pushing their way in. Getting Waller and Renfrow back to help that cause is important.

Beyond that, though, it is imperative the Raiders get a look at their full offense over the last month of the season to get a better handle on it for this season and the next.

The Raiders envisioned an offense in which Waller and Renfrow played off wide receiver Davante Adams, who they traded for last March, while forcing opposing defenses to make hard decisions on where to focus their coverage.

The injuries to Waller and Renfrow have sabotaged that, though, with Renfrow appearing in just 29.85 percent of the Raiders’ offensive snaps and Waller just 24.38 percent.

The Raiders had contemplated bringing both back last week, but the quick turnaround from their win over the Chargers on Sunday and their game against the Rams on Thursday eliminated the possibility of full practices.

As a result, the Raiders deemed it too ambitious to insert Waller and Renfrow into games without the benefit of any practices beforehand.

Meanwhile, the Raiders did some roster tinkering on Monday by signing center Hroniss Grasu from the practice squad.

The Raiders view Grasu as coverage at guard in addition to center, which could be important after right guard Alex Bars suffered a knee injury against the Rams and his replacement, John Simpson, was promptly released less than 24 hours after the game.

To replace Grasu on the practice squad, the Raiders signed guard Jordan Meredith.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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