The Oakland Raiders might be forced to play without defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. for the start of the 2016 season.
The Raiders could place Edwards on injured reserve as he recovers from a hip strain injury, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vic Tafur. If Edwards is placed on IR list, that means he would miss the first six weeks of the regular season.
Edwards injured his hip during the preseason opener nearly three weeks ago. He was carted off the field, but the diagnosis wasn’t as serious as previously feared. Edwards was projected to return in roughly 4-6 weeks, which means the Raiders could have a tough decision on their hands.
The Raiders could risk it and use a roster spot on Edwards if he is on track to return after the first week or two of the regular season. That could backfire if Edwards sustains a setback or simply isn’t ready to return. Placing him on IR would buy them more time and would free up a roster spot, but that also could backfire if Edwards recovers faster than expected.
The 2015 second-round pick out of Florida State was a productive player during his first season in Oakland. Edwards recorded 42 tackles, two sacks and forced three fumbles before missing the final two games of the season with a neck injury.
Edwards is one member of a young and improving Raiders defense. Led by linebacker Khalil Mack, the Raiders could possess one of the most formidable defenses in the NFL. Of course, Oakland’s front seven won’t be at full strength if Edwards misses any time.