Raiders will have to wait to get DL Mario Edwards Jr. back
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders will likely have to wait at least another week to get defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. back on the field for the first time this season.
Coach Jack Del Rio said Friday that the team did not anticipate activating Edwards from injured reserve to play in Sunday's game at San Diego. Edwards has been sidelined since injuring his hip in the preseason opener in August and returned to practice last week. The Raiders have until Dec. 26 to decide whether to activate Edwards or shut him down for the rest of the season.
''We'll get him ready for next week,'' Del Rio said. ''There's always a chance, but in all likelihood we'll hold off. ... The reality is he's had a good week, and I'd like him to get another good week. He's getting close.''
Edwards, a second-round pick out of Florida State last year, made 10 starts as a rookie and was emerging as a key player on Oakland's improving defense late last season before getting hurt. Edwards had 2 1/2 sacks, provided pressure on the quarterback and was stout against the run.
But he has been plagued by injuries. He missed the final two games last year with a significant neck injury that kept him out of most of the offseason program.
Edwards then hurt his hip in the preseason opener at Arizona on Aug. 12 and began the season on injured reserve. Oakland had initially hoped to get him back midway through the season.
''It will definitely help,'' defensive tackle Dan Williams said of getting Edwards back. ''Mario is a talented guy, a talented rusher. He was one of our leaders on the inside last year. Getting a good football player who is healthy and has fresh legs is exciting when we're trying to make this stretch run.''
The Raiders have missed Edwards' pass-rush ability from the inside to complement edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. Only Cleveland has fewer than Oakland's 22 sacks so far this season, with Mack (11) and Irvin (5) providing 16 of them.
''Obviously, Khalil is getting his numbers, Bruce is a presence off the edge. I think our edge press is pretty good,'' Del Rio said. ''I think as our interior pressure goes a little bit better and our coverage is a little tighter, I think those numbers will jump up. Hopefully that can start this weekend.''
Edwards had been counted on to give that inside push on passing downs. But with him sidelined, rookie Jihad Ward has been called on to try to fill that hole.
Ward has no sacks and only eight quarterback pressures, according to Sportradar. But Del Rio sees the tools that made Ward a second-round pick and hopes it turns into production.
''He plays hard, plays with great energy. He's very similar to how Malik Jackson was his first year in Denver,'' Del Rio said. ''Close on a lot of things. Doesn't make a lot of plays his first year, or hasn't done thus far, but he gives great energy.''
NOTES: Oakland will also be without rookie safety Karl Joseph, who will miss his second straight game with a toe injury. ... DT Stacy McGee (ankle) and LB Shilique Calhoun (knee) are also out. ... DT Darius Latham (ankle) is questionable this week after missing the previous two games.
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