“We look forward to getting him back,” Gruden said. “We certainly miss him.”
Littleton won’t play against the Broncos on Sunday, leaving the onus on the remainder of the Raiders’ linebackers to fill in for Littleton, who has played every defensive snap in six of eight games and at least 98 percent of the snaps in the other two.
Nicholas Morrow is a staple in the rotation of linebackers and will likely replace Littleton, having already logged playing time on 57 percent of the defensive snaps. Raekwon McMillan — whom Las Vegas acquired via trade from the Miami Dolphins before the season — has only played 32 snaps this season, but could see an uptick in playing time as well.
“Nick is one of the best linebackers we have. He’s a heck of player and we’re excited for him and his opportunity,” Gruden said. “We didn’t trade for Raekwon for any other reason than we think he’s a good linebacker that can play in a lot of situations. We hate to see Cory not here. He’s a big part of our team. But Nick Morrow has played a lot of football for us in this system and is more than capable of stepping up.”
The Raiders also won’t have defensive lineman Maurice Hurst against the Broncos on Sunday. He’s out with an ankle injury. And starting left tackle Kolton Miller is doubtful with ankle injury after missing the week of practice.
But cornerback Damon Arnette practiced this week and could play Sunday for the first time since Sept. 27, and Gruden said fellow cornerback Trayvon Mullen, who was sidelined by an injured hamstring last week against the Chargers, “looked good today and is ready to go.”
“We’re dealing with a lot of players that are out of the lineup right now, and every move affects the game day roster,” Gruden said. “We’ve got to put our heads together as a staff.”
Right guard Gabe Jackson is questionable with an illness.
Gruden honors Hornung
Former Green Bay Packers running back and NFL legend Paul Hornung died on Friday after a lengthy battle with dementia. He was 84. Hornung was the top pick in the 1957 NFL draft after an accomplished career at Notre Dame and played nine seasons for the Packers, winning the 1961 MVP and four NFL championships.
He concluded his career with 3,711 rushing yards and 62 touchdowns.
Gruden, who coached in Green Bay from 1992 to 1994 and met Hornung, had this to say about him during his press conference Friday.
“He was one of the most colorful guys to ever play this game,” Gruden said. “He was a true football guy and the world was a lot better place with Paul Hornung.”