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Gareon Conley to ‘play a lot’ against Colts as Raiders continue trying to figure out who should be starters

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more perplexing coaching decisions that we have seen so far this season is the suddenly dwindling playing time of 2nd year CB Gareon Conley. Originally coming out of the preseason Conley was a starter but has since seen less and less snaps culminating in his having no defensive snaps against the Seattle Seahawks in London before the Raiders bye week.

The lack of playing time led to an increased amount of callers interested in acquiring Conley’s services but so far the Raiders have not pulled the trigger on any trade offers. It appears that his time on the bench might just be coming to an end now though as Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther says that Conley will be playing again so that the coaches can see what he can do.

“I’ve said this every week, I’d like to get to two starting corners and Conley is in that mix.” Guenther said at his press conference this week. “He’s going to play a lot in this ballgame. Just trying to find what’s the best combination of guys and you can only do it when they are out there, so Conley’s played a lot in the first four or five ballgames. He will continue to play a lot more as we go because we need to continue to see what he can do.”

That will be good news to many Raiders fans who were miffed by the lack of snaps for Gareon Conley over the past couple of games. Conley was Oakland’s first round pick last year in 2017 but he missed basically the entire season with injuries. Coming into this season it had appeared through the off-season that he had regained his form from Ohio State but then had some struggles in the first few weeks of the season before being benched.

According to Paul Guenther, that was all just a calculation to further evaluate who should be starting for the team though. It would seem like you could have made those decisions while still allowing a young, growing player onto the field at least a little bit but that wasn’t the direction Guenther and the Raiders had taken. They had decided that it was what they needed to do in order to figure out who should be playing more instead of having a rotation of players.

“This is the first time as a defensive coordinator where it’s kind of like ‘hey, who’s going to be the starting corners, who’s going to be the linebackers, defensive line?’, because there has been a revolving set of guys in here which makes it a little difficult for the communication of everything. Conley is a guy that’s going to play a lot for us in this stretch and hopefully he plays good.”

It’s safe to say we all will be hoping Conley plays well because there are not very many pre-Jon Gruden era draft picks left on the team. If he plays badly coming back from this stint of being on the bench then it could signal another sad end for a high round Raiders draft pick. If anything has been made clear this season it is that Jon Gruden has no interest in waiting to see if other people’s draft picks fit his plans.

Hopefully after getting sat like this it will reinvigorate Conley and that we will finally get to see the player that Reggie McKenzie thought he was getting with his first round pick last year. He hasn’t been awful when on the field and he has managed to stay healthy since returning from an injury late in training camp. He certainly has talent or the phones wouldn’t be ringing with other teams wanting to trade for him.

It’s his time now to show he belongs as a starter and building block for this rebuilding Raiders team. With all that’s been going on with the Raiders there is no doubt that Gareon Conley absolutely knows that he won’t be given many more chances after this if he doesn’t step up his game. Nobody on the Raiders team should feel safe at this point, not Gareon Conley or anybody else.