The Las Vegas Raiders entered the bye week riding high after defeating the rival Kansas City Chiefs. Now there is concern about Sunday's primetime game against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Offensive tackle Trent Brown landed on the COVID-19/Reserve list on Wednesday and forced the Raiders to send multiple starters home while conducting contact tracing.
According to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez, head coach Jon Gruden said that the team had to send five starting linemen home because they were around [Trent [Brown]." The players had minimal contact due to an off day on Tuesday, but the team is still trying to find out if any other players were exposed. The Raiders need to keep quarterback Derek Carr upright against a Buccaneers defensive line that sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, but losing an entire starting line would disrupt these plans. "Hopefully we'll get some players back tomorrow for Sunday," Gruden said.
NFL teams have experienced mixed results with the coronavirus guidelines in their respective facilities. The Tennessee Titans had a massive outbreak that forced the postponement of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The New England Patriots, on the other hand, lost Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore for one game against the Chiefs but prevented further issues.
In particular, the Raiders previously drew criticism after tight end Darren Waller hosted a fundraising event for the Darren Waller Foundation. Several players attended and helped raise more than $300,000 to help young people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. They also violated coronavirus guidelines in Nevada.
The NFL fined multiple players following the fundraising event with Waller facing the largest penalty ($30,000) due to hosting the event. The other players received $15,000 fines for attending. Nevada OSHA added a fine of its own, docking the Dragonridge Country Club $10,930 for an event that "did not comply with COVID-19 safety directives."
While the Raiders were forced to send five starting linemen home on Wednesday, the team also saw the arrival of some needed depth. Backup quarterback Marcus Mariota returned to the active 53-man roster after spending time on Injured Reserve with a strained muscle. Additionally, the Raiders signed former Dallas Cowboys pass-rusher David Irving to the practice squad.
The 27-year-old defensive end last played in the NFL during the 2018 season. The league indefinitely suspended Irving for violating its policy and program for substances of abuse for the second time. Irving also "quit" on Instagram Live last year while criticizing the league's policy on marijuana.
The league ultimately reinstated Irving on Friday, and he began coronavirus testing. He agreed to join the Raiders and start his tenure in Silver and Black as a practice squad member. If needed, Irving will make the leap to the active roster and improve the defensive front.