ALAMEDA, Calif. — Lamarcus Joyner spent his first three seasons as a slot corner for the Rams. But when Wade Phillips joined the team as defensive coordinator in 2017, Joyner moved back to free safety.
Signing with the Raiders as a free agent in March, Joyner is once again a slot corner. But that position meant he wasn’t on the field much in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings because they weren’t using many three-receiver sets. And defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said he wouldn’t put Joyner in a situation where he’s playing a position he didn’t practice during the week unless it was an emergency.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden has been steadfast in maintaining that Joyner will stay at slot corner instead of rotating in at free safety. But the Raiders also want to get one of their best defensive players on the field.
“Well the idea is not for him to be standing next to me,” Gruden said. “We’ll have some creative roles for him down the stretch.”
From what Joyner said this week, some of those new roles could come as soon as Sunday against Indianapolis.
“Now I’m getting the scheme down, getting the rules down — so I definitely sense big plays coming in the near future, especially with the teams we’re going to be playing,” Joyner said.
With three talented tight ends in Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron and Mo Alie-Cox, the Colts present significant challenges for Joyner — who is listed at just 5 feet, 8 inches. But he’s embracing it.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Joyner said.
The Raiders entered the week with injury concerns at linebacker, but the trio of Vontaze Burfict, Nicholas Morrow and Kyle Wilber are all expected to play Sunday against the Colts.
“Still sketchy, but I’m encouraged,” Gruden said. “Burfict practiced, looked better today. Morrow practiced, so we are encouraged by that.”
Burfict, Morrow and Wilber all were full participants in practice Friday and do not have an injury status for Sunday’s game.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Gruden said the team expects right tackle Trent Brown (ankle/knee) to play, despite him being listed as questionable.
Offensive lineman Jordan Devey, who started last week’s game at right guard with the return of Richie Incognito at left guard, is questionable as well with a groin injury.
And defensive end Benson Mayowa (knee) was limited Thursday, but practiced in full Friday and does not have an injury status.
Only guard Gabe Jackson (knee) and wide receiver/return specialist Dwayne Harris (ankle) are out Sunday.
On the other side, the Colts will be without safety Malik Hooker (knee), linebacker Darius Leonard (concussion) and defensive tackle/end Tyquan Lewis (ankle).
A role for Davis?
The Raiders traded a sixth-round pick for wide receiver Trevor Davis last week, and Gruden noted Monday that the club didn’t pick him up to just sit and watch.
Late this week, offensive coordinator Greg Olson made it seem as if the speedy Davis will have a role in Sunday’s game plan.
“He’s an intelligent player, and we’ll get a chance to see him a little bit this weekend,” Olson said.
Known more as a return specialist, Davis has recorded nine career receptions for 122 yards with a touchdown, including a 28-yard reception earlier this season. He also has two carries for 13 yards in his career.
Gruden said Davis, running back Jalen Richard and running back Josh Jacobs are the candidates to return kicks Sunday with Harris out. Richard handled return duties for the Raiders last week against the Vikings.