Coming into their regular season opener, the Raiders were shorthanded. They were without a defensive end because of a decision Jon Gruden made. I’m speaking of course about Tank Carradine.
He signed with the Raiders as a free agent this offseason and throughout the offseason while Khalil Mack was holding out for a contract extension. He would get that extension, but only after Gruden made the decision to traded him to the Bears. The move put Carradine squarely in line to be the starter. Then he wasn’t.
Not only wasn’t Carradine the starter for the opener, he was inactive. Which seemed odd. He wasn’t on the injury report coming into the game. And the Raider can’t really afford to be sitting out defensive ends at this point. And yet, there he was, in sweats while the rest of the team warmed up to play an actual football game that mattered.
Monday Gruden revealed Carradine’s inactive status was a coach’s decision. Though he didn’t say what that reason was.
Carradine wasn’t much of a pass rusher in his four seasons in San Francisco, but the former second round pick looked pretty good in the preseason and was pretty optimistic a change of scheme would bring out his best. He wasn’t given that chance in the opener and in his absence the Raiders had a total of five pressures which was the worst in the NFL this weekend according to Pro Football Focus. And Todd Gurley put up 108 yards rushing on 20 carries (5.4 ypc).
Gruden did say that the Raiders defensive linemen got pretty banged up, and thus Carradine could see more time next week in Denver.
“We got beat up last night,” Gruden said Tuesday. “We lost some men. Justin Ellis hurt his ankle. PJ Hall hurt his ankle. If you look out there you see Frostee Rucker playing nose tackle. We were depleted inside, it’s tough on us. It’s a good chance you will see more of Tank this week.”
With as much work as went into shoring up the defensive line in March and April, it’s pretty amazing how it could become such a disaster come September.