Throughout the offseason since Mario Edwards missed the final two games of last season, Raiders fans have scrambled for any tidbits to give an indication of the severity of his injury. The rollercoaster went from possibly career threatening to no big deal; with signs pointing more and more toward the latter.
Edwards had been at the team facility doing light work with his teammates during offseason workouts and OTA's, but despite his assertion that he was full cleared to practice a month ago, the Raiders were holding him out of team sessions.
Their caution ended today when instead of the usual exit to the training room after warmups, Edwards remained on the field to line up with the first team defensive line. He didn't take it easy either, with full participation throughout the entirety practice.
Jack Del Rio doesn't speak on injuries, so we never really knew what the issue was with Edwards' neck until now.
"Just a sprain in my neck," said Edwards. "After that it was just doing everything that I needed to do to get right."
"It was fine. I just did exactly what the doctors told me to do and started working out asap, really. Within the next week or two I was working out again."
"There wasn't any tests. I just worked with the training staff and did everything I could do and then whenever I was good to come back on the field and do everything, they allowed me to."
He said when it happened that he just knew something wasn't right, but didn't know exactly what it was. That sprain had him in a neck brace for a couple weeks.
After the Raiders' precaution, he is now (for real this time) fully healthy declaring that "I'll be good... ready to go" for training camp when the players are finally allowed to don pads.
This three day minicamp is important, though, as it will be the last work he will get before the 6 week break before training camp. It would appear this minicamp was always the target for his return due to how valuable this work can be.
"Definitely," Edwards agreed with the importance of this minicamp. "Just to get back into the feel, the different blocks and schemes, it's always great, but it's about to be the offseason for us, so the training that I do from now until training camp is going to determine my season."
"Really just working hard. My thing is just starting fast. As long as I'm in shape and I can run around, everything else will take care of itself."
Edwards added that he ending a promising rookie season short was devastating for him, but adding "I know what work I need to put in this year to pick up where I left off, so that's what I'm focusing on now."
He is a big part of the Raiders' plans and his return to full health can't be understated with regard to the high hopes being placed on this bulked up Raiders defense. As for Edwards himself, Del Rio said "The sky's the limit."