The Las Vegas Raiders must be close to their best on Sunday to even have a chance against the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, and the first part of that is being as healthy as possible.
To that end, the Silver and Black got a lift on Wednesday when wide receiver Henry Ruggs III and tackle Trent Brown, both starters, were able to participate in practice on a limited basis.
Ruggs and Brown both were full participants in practice on Friday and were listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Chiefs.
“I’ll talk about Henry first,” quarterback Derek Carr said of Ruggs, whose presence in the offense helped the Raiders get off to a 2-0 start because his speed enabled him to get down the field and opened up things underneath. “Henry has shown some great signs of some great attributes, some things that you love to see of his work ethic, route-running ability. I wish we would have got to see more of it the past few games but because he was hurt, we didn’t see it, but his toughness, man.
“The kid is tough. He works his tail off and not playing really crushes him, whereas I’ve been around some guys where not playing isn’t the worst thing in the world to them. That shows you his football character and how much it means to him. I can’t say enough good things about Henry. I love him and I know he’s excited and hoping he’ll get to play.”
The 5-11, 185-pound Ruggs, selected by the Raiders with the 12th overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft out of Alabama, has only four catches for 59 yards, and a 14.8-yard average, and two carries for 11 yards.
Carr and Ruggs hit on a 45-yard pass that set up a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in a 34-30 victory, and they barely missed connecting on a couple more throws down the field early this season.
Once Ruggs is healthy after recovering from a hamstring and knee injuries, that threat will become a major part of the Raiders offense.
“He’s a rookie who had no spring practice, and he’s missed a lot of time,” Coach Jon Gruden said of Ruggs, who ran the 40-yard-dash in a rapid 4.27 seconds at the NFL Combine. “I don’t know if (Ruggs and Brown are) going to play this week or not but it’s good to have ’em back on the field.”
As for the 6-8, 380-pound Brown, he missed training camp and then went down in the opener against the Carolina Panthers because of a calf injury.
Brown, who was selected to the Pro Bowl last season in his first year with the Silver and Black, previously played with the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots, whom he helped win Super Bowl LIII.
“(Brown has) been working on the side simulating the offensive tackle position with A.J. Niebel and the training staff,” Gruden said. “He wouldn’t be out there practicing and be on the list to possibly play if he wasn’t in shape and ready to go. He has missed time, and you have to practice this game no matter what anybody says to be good at it.”
Without Brown and starting guard Richie Incognito, who is on Injured Reserve because of an Achilles tendon injury, Carr has not had as much time to throw the last two weeks in losses to the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.
Carr has fumbled three times under pressure in those games and is glad to get even one of his bodyguards back on the field.
“I know with Trent, he’s excited and hoping that he’ll get to play,” said Carr, who has completed 106-of-144 passes for 1,095 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception in four games. “Both those guys are trying to bounce back, get back into practice and get back into that shape and stuff like that. I know that they’re excited and I know that if we can get them back, you know, we’ve lost a lot of guys to injuries on both sides of the ball, any time you get someone back it’s a morale boost.
“It’s like, ‘Oh man, awesome, Trent’s back!’ Or, ‘Henry’s back!’ And hopefully, they will be, but I don’t know. It will be nice to see when we’re all full strength and playing week- after-week together what we’re capable of. Hopefully, we can get healthy and see what can happen.”
But for now, as Carr said, the Raiders can only hope for everyone to return as soon as possible, and to do their best with those who suit up on Sunday.
How to watch or listen to the Las Vegas Raiders versus the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday?
Radio: Raider Nation Radio
Odds: Las Vegas Raiders +11.5
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