Rookie tight end Brian Leonhardt missed his second straight practice Thursday due to a concussion he suffered last Sunday against the Rams. His absence leaves the Raiders with just one tight end - Mychal Rivera - on the roster, which means they may be forced to make a roster more before Sunday's game.
Having just two tight ends on the roster the entire season was playing with fire a little bit, but it isn't a new thing for the Raiders. They've had a thin tight end corps for a couple seasons now. The main reason is because they keep putting their hopes in David Ausberry and he keeps going out with injury. This year they have made no move to replace him.
So, it's Rivera catching passes and Leonhardt blocking. And that's it.
Greg Olson explained what the Raiders are planning to do about the pickle they are now in at tight end.
"Brian Leonhardt was doing a good job developing as our blocking tight end and now it'll be opportunities for younger players to show up, and obviously we'll look at the scheme and see what we're doing schematically to aid us in running the football. We'll still continue to utilize the tight end in those situations, but it was just a shame for Brian Leonhardt because he was developing this season."
The fact that Olson is talking about Leonhardt in the past tense -- as if he is lost for the season - aside, from the sounds of it, the team will exercise pretty much they're only option this late in the game. That is to activate Scott Simonson from the practice squad.
Simonson is an undrafted free agent rookie out of Assumption College. He was signed shortly after the draft and was placed on the practice squad prior to the start of the season. Leonhardt was in Simonson's position last year when he was an undrafted free agent out of Bemidji State and spent the entire season on the practice squad. So, it would take a rookie to be considers, as Olson put it, a "younger player" than Leonhardt.