Training camp has arrived for the Las Vegas Raiders and with it, some injury news. The team has been relatively unscathed this offseason but now they have to release some new information.
The Raiders announced that they’ve placed defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, cornerback Trayvon Mullen and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols on the Physically Unable to Perform List.
None of these names should be too surprising but it is concerning. Mullen is supposed to be one of the starting cornerbacks but had an undisclosed surgery this offseason that the Raiders have yet to shed light on. Hankins is entering his fifth year with the team and has only missed four games over the last four seasons. It’s unclear what his injury is but history says that he’ll be back on the field soon unless the Raiders say otherwise.
Nichols was signed to the team in free agency and he’s the most proven interior pass rusher they have. With defensive coordinator Patrick Graham installing a new defense, these three players are missing out on key reps. The hope is that they don’t miss too much time.
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Players on PUP List Could Miss 4 Games
Head coach Josh McDaniels has yet to directly address this injury knows so it’s unclear the extent of their injuries. What’s most concerning is that all three players will have to miss at least four games to start the season if they are still on the PUP List past August 23rd, per Tashan Reed of The Athletic.
Fortunately, the Raiders don’t appear too concerned yet. According to Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the team isn’t expecting the three players to be out long.
There can always be setbacks with injuries so until any or all of the three are back on the field, they are at risk of missing the first chunk of the season. Considering Mullen, Nichols and Hankins could all be starters, this is a situation to watch closely over the next month.
Injury Coming at the Wrong Time for Mullen
The Raiders’ new brass signed Nichols to a two-year contract this offseason and Graham has worked with Hankins before so there’s trust there. The same can’t be said for Mullen yet. He only played five games due to injury last season and was a second-round pick by the previous regime. He’s also entering a contract. This is the definition of a prove-it year for Mullen.
He’s shown that he has talent and has great size for a cornerback. Graham has to be a fan of his attributes as he’s a good fit in the man coverage-heavy scheme that the coach is expected to run. Mullen is expected to be a starter but that’s not a guarantee. In training camp, there are a number of players who can impress the coaching staff and earn a starting spot while Mullen is on the sidelines. The team signed Anthony Averett and Darius Phillips this offseason, who both have starting experience. That’s not to mention Rock Ya-Sin, who the team traded for and is expected to start.