It’s game day. Preseason, that is. The Raiders face off against the Rams in their second preseason game of 2017. That means soon we’ll be halfway through the preseason. As of today we are 22 days from the regular season opener in Tennessee.
When we started this countdown, it was Taiwan Jones who was wearing number 22. He was released just prior to training camp, making the number available and it was scooped up by a rookie who was essentially without one.
CB Gareon Conley
As the draft approached, this Ohio State product was rising up draft boards and was starting to look like he could be a top ten pick. Those prospects evaporated when sexual assault allegations emerged. it wasn’t that teams thought he did it, but it was a risk many teams were simply unwilling to take when there were other great prospects that didn’t carry the same risk.
The Raiders, sitting at 24 overall, were in need of secondary help and couldn’t afford not to do their research and see if the potential reward outweighed the potential risk. They decided Conley was going to be cleared of the accusations and made him their pick. And they were right, which makes Reggie McKenzie, Jack Del Rio, and the scouting department look pretty smart.
A couple weeks ago the Conley case went to the Grand Jury and the same day it was decided that there would be no charges brought against Conley. With that risk now behind them, it was just about the potential reward. For that, you need only look at his astounding college numbers last season.
Conley gave up just 14 catches on 43 targets last season (32.6%) with 4 interceptions and 12 passes defended. But easily the most impressive stat is the 13.6 passer rating of quarterbacks when targeting his receiver.
You read more about what Conley brings to the Raiders here. And you should watch this video from before the draft:
Despite his college numbers and the assault allegations leading to nothing, things haven’t been smooth sailing for Conley. He missed all of Raiders training camp with a shin injury. Then he unintentionally disputed his own GM’s labeling of the injury as shin splints, leading to some damage control from the Raiders including head coach Jack Del Rio addressing it in a post game press conference.
Del Rio said on the final day of camp that the next couple weeks will be huge as to whether Conley will be ready for the season. He has already been out more than two months, so the injury is quite concerning.
Who wore it best: CB Mike Haynes
Haynes had already been to six Pro Bowls with the Patriots when the Raiders traded for him. But he didn't get his first Super Bowl ring until he joined the Raiders in 1983. He hadn't even won a playoff game before he joined the Raiders. Not only did he get that elusive ring, but he also was named All Pro twice with the Raiders in 1984-85 and a Pro Bowler three more times.
Haynes (pictured) was acquired during the 1983 season in a trade with the New England Patriots. In 7 seasons in Oakland, he intercepted 18 passes. He added an interception in the Super Bowl XVIII win over Washington. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.