Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden just might be frowning under his league-mandated mask.
Although the Raiders won two of their first games to open their first year in Las Vegas, injuries quickly ravished the team. Of note, the Raiders are down several starting receivers, including rookie speedster Henry Ruggs.
The injuries aren’t just affecting Gruden’s game prep. Gruden admitted the injuries have taken a serious mental toll on him and his Las Vegas Raiders team.
Jon Gruden’s Raiders have been ravished by injuries
The Raiders’ injury report is enough to make even the biggest Jon Gruden hater feel sympathetic.
Of note, Las Vegas listed veteran offensive lineman Richie Incognito (Achillies), offensive tackles Sam Young (groin) and Trent Brown (calf), and rookie cornerback Damon Arnette (wrist/thumb) on the injury report.
Sixteen Raiders players appeared on the team’s Sept. 30 injury report.
Of those 16 players, six — including Arnette and three wide receivers — did not participate in practice that day.
Henry Ruggs is among the Raiders out
Both of Las Vegas’s first-round picks from April’s draft are currently injured — and they may be out for some time.
Damon Arnette’s wrist injury has lingered for a few weeks. Ex-Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs, the 12th overall pick in April, is officially battling knee and hamstring problems.
Ruggs did not practice on September 30.
Ruggs turned three passes into 55 yards in a Week 1 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Most of that damage came on Ruggs’ 45-yard catch-and-run. The speedy rookie also picked up 11 rushing yards on two carries.
Ruggs caught one pass for four yards and had a 16-yard kick return in Week 2 against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
Ruggs is no stranger to big plays, having averaged 17.5 yards per reception in three seasons at Alabama. The explosive Ruggs scored a touchdown on one of every four catches (24 touchdowns on 98 career catches) under Nick Saban.
Jon Gruden said the injuries ‘depressed’ him
The NFL’s mandate that coaches need to wear a mask or face shield on the sideline makes it hard to see Jon Gruden’s facial expressions.
However, all of the Raiders’ injuries don’t make it hard to imagine Gruden’s emotions, whether they be anger or frustration.
Gruden just shared a new emotion and mood state he’s currently feeling. When Vic Tafur of The Athletic asked Gruden about the Raiders’ injuries, Gruden explained how they affected a team’s mental state.
“They’re our starters. So it does affect you emotionally. You get a little depressed, Vic. You’re not as happy as you would be, but if it’s another player, so be it. We have a lot of confidence in [Nelson] Agholor.”
A former first-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles who struggled with drops, Agholor has caught four passes for 74 yards and a touchdown this season.
Las Vegas has three challenging games ahead. The Raiders host Josh Allen and the Bills in Week 4 before traveling to Kansas City for an AFC West matchup with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. After a Week 6 bye, Las Vegas hosts Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
Gruden may not have many chances in those games to turn his frown upside down, especially with all of the Raiders’ injuries.