It should probably come as no surprise that the perpetually old school and notorious grinder Jon Gruden isn’t a fan of bye weeks.
The Raiders coach still insists he would rather play doubleheaders than take a week off during the season.
But Gruden conceded Monday it might not be a bad thing for his banged up roster.
“I’ve never been a fan of the bye weeks,” he said after returning home from an upset victory in Kansas City. “I’d like to keep playing. But it is part of the schedule, so in some ways it will give Trent Brown an additional couple days to respond to his first game. We’re hoping Richie Incognito can come back, obviously. Maurice Hurst. Maliek Collins, Damon Arnette, Bryan Edwards.
”We’ve got a lot of guys still on the mend so I’ll take this bye week this year at this time.”
This will be far from a typical bye week for the Raiders players and coaches, who usually have an opportunity to take a few days off and even sneak away for a quick vacation.
That won’t be possible during a 2020 season with COVID-19 hanging over it. Players and staff still will be tested every day, keeping everyone close to town.
Gruden said the team will practice Wednesday, though many veterans will be given the day off.
The rest of the week will be focused on getting healthy and making sure everyone is adhering to protocols to ensure there are no disruptions to the season.
“We’re going to challenge our players to be smart, wear the proper face shields wherever they go and be very, very careful because we would like to keep this group together and see what we can get done the rest of the season,” Gruden said.
Ferrell steps up
Gruden said second-year defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell had his best game as a pro on Sunday.
“The statistics don’t always show what a player does,” Gruden said. “I thought he had 13 or 14 factor plays that really helped us win this game. He played inside, he played outside. I thought he really showed the ability to convert his speed rush to power. He showed good chase and pursuit, great energy and effort.
“That was his best game, I think, as a Raider, especially in the second half.”
Ferrell wasn’t alone.
With Collins and Hurst both missing the game, Kendal Vickers started and played 37 snaps Sunday. Veteran ends Datone Jones and Chris Smith were called up from the practice squad and both saw significant time — Jones getting 27 snaps and Smith 19, largely out of position at tackle.
“Kendal Vickers, nobody knows he’s alive but me and the Raiders,” Gruden said. “This guy did a great job yesterday. Chris Smith played the under tackle position. Here’s a guy that’s a seven or eight year veteran that’s a defensive end and he’s lining up in there as a defensive tackle.
”And I’m really proud of Datone Jones and all the players that have contributed through the first five weeks and I hope it makes us a better team over the next 10 weeks.”
Booker earns more reps
Gruden said veteran running back Devontae Booker will continue to be more involved in the offense after turning in season-highs of seven carries and 62 yards while catching his only target for five yards.
“We’re trying to keep Josh fresh,” Gruden said. “He’s got 106 carries and it was hot yesterday. It was 90 degrees and Jacobs is doing a lot for us.
”So we got Booker out there and we’ve got to get more of him for two reasons. No. 1, we have to rest Jacobs a little bit more. Secondly, Booker is a good back. So you’ll see a little bit more of Booker the next 10 or 12 weeks.”
Gruden said Marcus Mariota has looked good throwing the ball in practice as he continues to work his way back from injury.
It’s possible he could be activated to serve as the backup quarterback ahead of the Raiders home game against Tampa Bay after the bye.
“We like what we’ve seen on the practice field quite a bit the last seven or eight days and I like what Nate Peterman is doing,” said Gruden, who expects Mariota and Peterman to split reps at Wednesday’s practice. “You haven’t seen him, but we have. Nate Peterman is getting better and better and we’ll see where Marcus is health-wise on Wednesday.”
The Texans have signed Kyle Emanuel off the Raiders’ practice squad and added him to their active roster.
Emanuel was on the active roster for the Raiders’ Week 3 loss to the Patriots. The 2015 fifth-round pick of the Chargers signed with the Raiders in August.