Raiders cornerback Brandon Facyson took a moment to look around and soak everything in when he hit the practice field Wednesday.
The sixth-year pro has been through hundreds of practices. But this was his first since training camp thanks to a calf injury that has cost him almost the entire season.
The Raiders opened the 21-day practice window for Facyson’s potential return off injured reserve by putting him back on the field.
“It’s just something I had to really take in and thank God for,” Facyson said Thursday. “I don’t say I took it for granted or anything, but you always feel like you appreciate it a little more when it’s taken away from you for any reason. But I’m just excited and thankful for where I am and the journey.”
Facyson’s season has been frustrating.
He played for the Raiders in 2021 and returned on a year-deal in March after a promising campaign with the Colts. He hasn’t been able to build off it. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game.
“You come in the season with high expectations for yourself and the team and it kind of took a little turn,” Facyson said. “It just wasn’t where I was planning on it going, but I had to just buckle in and get to work on my rehab. … I’m just excited to be back. I can’t even put it into words how excited I am to be with all my guys and being able to contribute again.”
Facyson hopes that could be this week. He admitted there were a couple times in the rehab process he thought this could be a lost season, but he never stopped working to get back on the field.
Now, he hopes to be part of a positive stretch run.
“I just want to contribute any way I can,” he said. “Do what I know I can do to help my teammates win games. I know the things I bring to the game and helping my team is the only thing in front of me right now. We have five games left and our goal is to go 5-0 and let the cards play out.”
Facyson is not the only Raiders player on injured reserve who could be nearing a return to the field.
Linebacker Kana’i Mauga’s effort stood out his first four NFL games between Weeks 4 and 7. His special-teams play drew compliments, which led to him getting defensive snaps for the first time Oct. 22 against Chicago.
Then Mauga hurt his knee in practice before the Raiders played the Lions on Oct. 30.
“I felt like I was doing what I had to do and showing progress with the plays I was putting out there,” Mauga. said. “It was just unfortunate to get hurt, but it’s really good to be back out there.”
Mauga hopes to get fully cleared in time to play Sunday against the Vikings.
He’s been encouraged by the praise he’s received from coaches and teammates for going 100 percent on every rep.
“It feels good just having the experienced guys come to me and pat me on the back,” Mauga said. “It feels good, but it also keeps me motivated to keep doing the same things and help keep the team morale up.”
There were a few additions to the injury report for the Raiders on Thursday.
Kicker Daniel Carlson missed practice with an illness. Defensive end Malcolm Koonce suffered an ankle injury and was listed as limited after not appearing on Wednesday’s report. Defensive tackle John Jenkins was given a veteran rest day.
Facyson and Mauga were both listed as limited as they work their way back.
Left tackle Kolton Miller (shoulder) and star defensive end Maxx Crosby (knee) both missed a second consecutive practice. Both were able to play through their ailments against the Chiefs on Nov. 26 before the Raiders bye week. More will be known about their status Friday when the team practices for the final time this week.