The one word I would use to describe the winless Raiders right now (if I'm being kind): Rebuilding
The most recent example of the constant rebuilding process that is occurring in Oakland is at the linebacker position.
Quite a rollercoaster it has been at the linebacker position in Oakland lately. In OTA's this off-season, the Raiders seemed to have more linebackers than they knew what to do with. But by the time the season rolled around, suddenly that deep unit was not looking so stacked. As of last week, it was in complete disarray.
The first loss was Nick Roach who suffered a concussion in the third week of the preseason and never returned. Then it was Sio Moore in week two who was lost to an ankle injury that caused him to miss the last two games.
Miles Burris was in a walking boot for a few days following week three in New England, which threatened to leave the team with just three healthy linebackers. He was ultimately able to play, but early in the game, Kaluka Maiava went down with a hamstring injury and the unit was down to three lineabackers after all - Khalil Mack, Bojay Filimoeatu, and Burris.
The team returned from London with the bye week ahead of them and very much in need of a week off to get the linebacker situation in order.
The first move was to place Kaluka Maiava on injured reserve. Replacing him on the roster was recently waived Ray-Ray Armstrong from the Rams.
Next up, it was Nick Roach who was placed on injured reserve. Always a tough decision because of how valuable he is to this team as well as in most normal concussion situations, he would have missed at most a week. He has missed six weeks.
"Yeah, obviously it was a hard decision to make, one that we felt at this particular time was in the best interest of the team," Tony Sparano said of placing Roach on IR. "But, after consulting with our doctors and other doctors at this point in time, it was a decision that we needed to make, so we had to move on, and unfortunately that's what we did."
"It's certainly a blow, no question about it. Nick was one of our defensive leaders. No question about that. He's a guy that we rely an awful lot on. But, it's one of the body blows that goes on in our business. Every week, every team suffers the same thing. That's what I call them, I call them body blows. We haven't had Nick for quite some time, we've had to make other plans."
The other plan the Raiders made was to sign four-year veteran inside linebacker, Jamar Chaney. He will replace Roach on the roster, though he is not expected to start, at least not in the immediate future. That job will continue to fall to Miles Burris, who has not looked good as the fill-in, but who Sparano says has done "an outstanding job."
The final order of business was Sio Moore who returned to practice for the first time in three weeks. That's not to say he will be ready right away. He was limited today and the plan is not to rush him to risk re-aggravation of his injury.
"I thought Sio looked good," said Tony Sparano. "He looked good for being out there for his first day and did some things. We were really careful with him today, but hopefully we'll just see how tomorrow goes and when he gets back in here and we don't have any setbacks."
With Moore's return, the Raiders now have a full stable of linebackers. It may not be an extremely talented group, but at least they have a few backups if needed. Tony Sparano feels a great deal more comfortable now that he is not running a skeleton crew at linebacker.
"Well, today it was pretty good," Sparano said of the linebacking corps. "Actually, getting Sio [Moore] back out on the field today, even though it was in a limited basis, was good. Adding two linebackers that are young players, that are out there, that both kind of have different job descriptions right now and different skill sets for us, that was good to see. I thought they moved around really good for their first day out there. So, I mean it's our job to get them ready to play and up and moving, but we walked out on the practice field today with five or six linebackers. That hasn't happened in a long time."
Even while the Raider as a whole are in rebuild, they are faced with reconstructing entire position groups along the way.