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Raiders tight end horrors continue for defense in loss to Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — Option A for the Raiders defense was safety Obi Melifonwu.

The lengthy, rangy safety from Connecticut was drafted in large part to address the team’s coverage woes against tight ends. He was not available Sunday; the rookie second-round pick remains on injured reserve after August knee surgery.

But that was no excuse.

Vernon Davis wasn’t exactly the Washington Redskins’ first option, either.

The 33-year-old tight end started on Sunday in place of standout Jordan Reed. He stepped in seamlessly. He had five catches for 58 yards — all in the first half — including an 18-yard touchdown on a seam route, to help lift Washington to a 14-0 lead in a 27-10 victory.

Reed was listed as questionable to face the Raiders with sternum/rib injuries.

Cornerback Sean Smith, a big-body defensive back like Meliofonwu, struggled to contain Davis. He first allowed a 26-yard reception in man coverage on the Redskins’ opening touchdown drive and later trailed again in man coverage on Davis’ score.

Melifonwu missed a significant chunk of training camp to an ankle injury, and there is reason to be measured with expectations as to his impact when healthy. He is not eligible to return until Week 9.

The Raiders must solve their tight-end riddle from within.

Turnover King

The Raiders’ best offense for much of Sunday was their punter.

Marquette King helped put Oakland on the board in the third quarter. He launched a 44-yarder to the Washington 9-yard line where wide receiver Jamison Crowder was unable to field it. Raiders defensive end James Cowser recovered his punt muff at the 18, leading to a 21-yard Jared Cook touchdown reception.

King forced a muffed punt last Sunday, too.

It led to running back Marshawn Lynch’s first touchdown this.


— Facing the team that drafted him in the 2013 second round, Raiders cornerback David Amerson was in position to break up a deep third-quarter pass intended for wide receiver Josh Doctson. But Doctson outmuscled him for the ball, recording a 52-yard touchdown to push Washington’s lead to 21-0.

— The Raiders recorded no first downs in the first quarter for the first time since Dec. 13, 2015, against the Denver Broncos. They had no first-quarter passing yards on Sunday, either.

— Quarterback Connor Cook, cornerback Dexter McDonald, safety Erik Harris, tackle Jylan Ware, tackle David Sharpe, defensive tackle Darius Latham and defensive lineman Jihad Ward were healthy scratches. Ward was a 2016 second-round pick.

More Raiders: Follow all of our Raiders coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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