As we talk about the optimistic possibility of Mario Edwards Jr returning from his hip injury in time for the season opener, the prognosis could be much more bleak. Jack Del Rio told the San Francisco Chronicle that Edwards could be headed to Injured Reserve, which would have him missing at least the first six games of the season.
The team has the option of choosing one player to remove from injured reserve after six weeks. After which the team would have three weeks to do so.
He would be placed on injured reserve after the final round of cuts, which will free up a roster spot for a player who was on the bubble.
The reason for the initial optimism Edwards may not miss any games was the timetable was set at 4-6 weeks. With the injury occurring August 12 — four weeks before the start of the season — the possibility was there for him returning in time for the opener, and it was thought that the long game was missing the first two games.
Missing six games is another story.
The second year defensive lineman missed the final three games of last season with a neck injury after coming on strong late in the season in place of the injured Justin Tuck.
Being without Edwards this preseason has had a noticeable affect on the defense.
“I think Mario, he’s a big key because he’s a good player for us,” Dan Williams said this week. “I mean, you saw before he got hurt he was stepping up, finally finding his groove, and playing well. Anytime you lose a guy like that, it hurts you regardless – rotation wise – but at the same time we have the next man up mentality.
“Guys have to step up and we can’t have a drop off. But I know we’re definitely going to happy when he comes back. Mario, he’s good for our defensive line room and just good for the defense.”
The combination of Denico Autry and Jihad Ward has not been able to duplicate what Edwards brings to the line both from a pass rush and a run defense perspective.
When Edwards took over full time at defensive end last season is when Khalil Mack really took off.
Where Mack excels most is pass rush, but he also hangs his hat on run defense; an area that has been considerably lacking this preseason. The loss of Edwards for the first six games won’t help. According to Mack, the key will be attitude.
“Just pinpoint on the attitude and the focus of the defense knowing that we have to have that mindset of no team can run on us in any situation,” Mack said this week. “Just bring that to the forefront along with all the other guys on the defensive side of the ball with Bruce [Irvin] and Reggie [Nelson] and all of them, all the guys. It’s just going to be that attitude that we have to have – a dominating attitude against the run.”