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Brandon LaFell to IR ‘big loss’ for Raiders, but Jordy Nelson has ‘chance’ to return this week

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Cleveland Browns v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Within a few weeks time, Brandon LaFell went from afterthought to the best receiver the Raiders had. Now he’s done for the season. The 6-3, 210-pound receiver ruptured his Achilles tendon in the third quarter against the Cardinals Sunday and has been officially placed on injured reserve.

“It’s a big loss for us,” Gruden said of LaFell.

“He was good. He was a good player,” Gruden continued. “He beat Patrick Peterson on a touchdown pass yesterday. Went up and got a huge third-down conversion. Touchdown against the Colts. He did a lot of things for us. He played multiple positions. We’re going to miss him. He’s going to be a hard guy to replace.”

LaFell had 12 catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns over the past four games since being activated and becoming the starter, replacing Amari Cooper who was traded to the Cowboys.

Last week the team would then lose Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson to knee injuries in the same game. Bryant suffered a PCL injury that could have him out a while. Nelson has a bone bruise that kept him out Sunday against the Cardinals, but he still made the trip.

“I visited with Jordy a little bit last night on the airplane,” Gruden said. “I thought he ran pretty good this morning. He’s got a chance. It’s important to him, I think he wants to come back and play no doubt, and he’s getting close to doing that. I can’t update anything on Martavis [Bryant] yet.”

Due to the LaFell injury, the team added Keon Hatcher off the Packers’ practice squad. Hatcher, you may recall, was a 2017 undrafted free agent for the Raiders and had a big final preseason game last August that had him make the team initially only to be waived after the season opener.

With Hatcher back in the fold and Nelson looking close, the Raiders waived Saeed Blacknall just days after calling him up from the practice squad and making him active for the game.