In one week, the Raiders have lost their top three linebackers. The starters just a week ago were Denzel Perryman and Divine Deablo, with Blake Gonzalez as the next man up. A week later, none of them will be playing today with the Raiders set to face off against the Indianapolis Colts.
Deablo went out on the second play of the loss to the Jaguars. He was replaced by Gonzalez who then had season highs in snaps (63) and tackles (11). A bit later, Denzel Perryman was injured. He toughed it out the rest of the game, but was clearly not 100% and was struggling as a result.
Monday, Deablo wass sent to injured reserve, Thursday Gonzalez announced his retirement, and Friday Perryman was still limited in practice with hip and ribs injuries and was listed as Questionable. A short time ago, he was officially inactive.
On the Colts side of things, the question coming into this week was whether Jonathan Taylor was going to play after last week’s game against the Patriots with an ankle injury.
By the end of this week, the All Pro back was limited in the first practice of the week, but even then Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels was expecting Taylor would be a go.
“Assuming [Jonathan] Taylor will be back offensively,” said McDaniels. “Obviously a really important guy for us to be able to bottle up and try to stop, which is very difficult. Nobody’s been better than he has the last few years.
By Thursday, Taylor was a full participant in practice and Friday was removed from the injury report.
Trying to “bottle up” Taylor is something no team was able to to last season, with him averaging over 106 yards per game. Only the Chiefs and Titans have slowed Taylor down this season, and, without looking, I’m going to say they probably weren’t without their top three linebackers for those contests.
The key for the Raiders if they want to take Taylor out of the game may not be stopping him, but rather scoring on offense and forcing the Colts to abandon the run. And scoring on this tough Colts defense is no easy task. They are top five in yards allowed this season, even with a floundering offense.