The Oakland Raiders defensive line has been without two of their top players this season, as defensive end Aldon Smith was suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy late last season, and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. has missed the first 14 games with a hip injury.
While it does not appear that Smith will be reinstated by the NFL this season, it looks as if the Raiders will be getting a boost as Edwards gets closer to being healthy.
Earlier this season Edwards was placed on injured reserve, but he was the one player that was designated to return.
With two regular season games remaining and the postseason ahead, Edwards could be in line to make his season debut Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts.
He practiced all week, and even packed his bags for the game. According to Jimmy Durkin of The Mercury News, head coach Jack Del Rio was impressed with Edwards in practice this week:
“We’ll work through that,” Del Rio said. “He had a good week of practice. Obviously we’ve got to make a move to get him active before we can activate him and play him. But I think he’s had a good week.”
General manager Reggie McKenzie also recently hinted at a possible return for Edwards:
General manager Reggie McKenzie, speaking Wednesday night on SiriusUX NFL Radio, said, “We’re excited the way Mario has practiced here in the last couple weeks, so we feel pretty good about that situation, about the nation seeing him this weekend.”
Oakland selected Edwards in the second round of the 2015 draft out of Florida State. He played in 14 games (10 starts) his rookie year and had 33 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
So far this season Khalil Mack has been a one-man wrecking crew on the Raiders defensive line, so the return of Edwards could help him out by bringing pressure from the other side of the line.
Edwards suffered the hip injury in the first quarter of the Raiders’ first preseason game Aug. 12.