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Gareon Conley ‘extremely close’ to returning to practice for Raiders

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Could Gareon Conley be ready to go by the start of OTA’s?

NFL: Oakland Raiders Rookie Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As the Raiders offseason program continues this week, we are now exactly two weeks away from the start of OTA’s. That’s a good goal for when the Raiders would like to see Gareon Conley back from his shin injury.

“Conley is doing well. He’s very close,” Jon Gruden said last Friday. “He participated in the veteran minicamp in the walk-throughs and he’s running with our defensive backs out here on the field. He’s extremely close to get the green light. We’re just being smart with him.

We are about 11 months since Conley was a full participant in any Raiders practice. He injured his shin in minicamps last June. That injury lingered, keeping him out of training camp and preseason and bled into the regular season too. He returned for week two and tried to give it a go, but aggravated the injury the following week and was lost for the season.

The team’s top pick in 2017, Conley will be expected to step in and start at one of the cornerback spots with newly acquired cornerback Rashaad Melvin projected to start on the opposite side.

As of now, the Raiders have 11 cornerbacks on the roster, most of whom are at best competing for depth. The one cornerback they drafted was Nick Nelson out of Wisconsin in the fourth round, who will compete for the third cornerback spot. He is also not able to practice due to a torn meniscus he suffered in a private workout for the Lions this offseason. He is not expected to participate until training camp, but he too was out on the field doing light work on the side during rookie minicamp.