Updated September 27, 2023 - 5:59 pm
Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was not on the practice field Wednesday, leaving more reps for veteran Brian Hoyer and rookie Aidan O’Connell.
Garoppolo’s absence was expected. He’s in the NFL’s concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head in Sunday’s loss to the Steelers.
But coach Josh McDaniels stopped short of ruling Garoppolo out of Sunday’s road game against the Chargers.
“He’s already moving through (the steps),” McDaniels said of Garoppolo, who was in the locker room after practice with teammates. “Again, it doesn’t mean that we know what the ultimate end result will be, but he’s doing good so far. And that’s out of my jurisdiction, so we’ll just find out when they tell us.”
Players deemed to have suffered a concussion must clear several steps, which can take a different amount of time depending on the severity and individual.
After a period of limited activity and mandated rest, a player will move on to supervised aerobic exercise and balance testing.
The third stage involves football-specific exercise that can include 30 minutes of supervised team work and cardio.
Players can start throwing and catching with the team in noncontact drills during the fourth phase, which includes neurocognitive and balance testing. Then comes full clearance.
Of course, clearing through the protocol alone is not the only obstacle to Garoppolo playing Sunday.
If he doesn’t clear until Saturday, the team would have to make a decision about starting him without any practice time.
“Every player is quite different in that regard,” McDaniels said. “We’ll just kind of see where we’re at. I don’t want to speculate on a hypothetical like that. But each player would have to be evaluated in that regard. How comfortable they feel is part of that process, too. It’s not just how I feel or somebody else. They would have to feel comfortable with being able to play without practice.”
Garoppolo was unavailable for comment. Neither O’Connell nor Hoyer entered the locker room during the portion open to the media.
Linebacker Curtis Bolton (knee) didn’t practice Wednesday. He appeared to grab his left leg after covering a punt in the first quarter of Sunday’s game and didn’t return.
Three other defensive players were limited. End Maxx Crosby (knee), safety Roderic Teamer (Achilles) and cornerback Jakorian Bennett (hamstring) got in varying levels of work.
Special teams adjustment
Bolton’s absence caused some shifting around on the punt team because of his role as the personal protector in front of AJ Cole in the formation.
Safety Isaiah Pola-Mao stepped in Sunday for the final four punts.
“He was good,” Cole said. “Stepped up, did the job. He’s been doing some double duty because we knew if there was an injury, he is who we would have been brought in. He’s been getting in the gunner meetings but also protection meetings with the group and on his own.”
Pola-Mao could be in line again if Bolton is out for an extended period, but special teams coach Tom McMahon might think Pola-Mao is better out wide and use someone else in the backfield.
“That’s not an unimportant job,” McDaniels said. “We’re trying to make decisions about what we think gives us the best chance to be successful in each phase.”
Pola-Mao is ready for whatever role he is asked to fill.
“We treat our PP (personal protector) as another gunner, really, so it’s not that much of a difference,” he said.
Cole said he can adjust no matter who is back with him.
“It changes the protection because it’s a different guy calling the shots, but for me it doesn’t change anything with my approach or process,” he said.