Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Thursday, their first training camp casualty of a front-line player due to the coronavirus.
Also placed on the list was running back Rod Smith.
Crosby, a rookie fourth-round pick out of Eastern Michigan, was one of the standouts of a strong draft class with 10 sacks and is being counted upon to build on that season this year. He played in all 16 games with 10 starts.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden was on a Zoom teleconference with reporters Thursday but the names of Crosby and Smith being on the list were not available to reporters.
Crosby’s length of quarantine and absence from the practice field depend on his circumstances. Players can go on the list if they test positive for the coronavirus or merely if they’ve been exposed to someone that has tested positive.
Last week, running back Devontae Booker went on the COVID-19 reserve list on July 30 and was reinstated Monday.
Smith, 28, joined the Raiders last December after stints with Seattle, Dallas, the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans. He can play both halfback and fullback at 6-foot, 235 pounds and contribute on special teams.
If Crosby tested positive without symptoms, he could return in as little as five days with two negative tests separated by a 24-hour period or even sooner should he be cleared by a team physician in conjunction with NFL-NFLPA medical experts at Infection Control Education for Major Sports (ICS).
Symptomatic players aren’t cleared until 10 days have passed since the first symptom and 72 hours have passed since the last symptoms occurred.
When the NFL deadline for opting out of the 2020 season ended, three players decided to take the year off — defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga, cornerback D.J. Killings and linebacker Ukeme Eligwe. All were longshots to be on the 53-man roster.
Gruden has impressed upon his team the need to be resilient and adjust to the point where he reportedly took the extreme step of having assistant coach Rich Bisaccia inform the players by conference call their head coach had tested positive and was at the hospital.
The teleconference Thursday ended before Gruden could be asked about it, but he did talk about practice precautions amid the pandemic.
“We’ve split our coaching staff into two groups,” Gruden said.” We have two fields working at the same time. We change the players and the coaches every day, so everybody gets a chance to interact with one another. We’ve got a lot of depth on this staff. A lot of young coaches that are on the rise, so we are preparing for any contingency plans that could come up.”
Other than some pre-camp players-only workouts organized by quarterback Derek Carr before the reporting date of July 28, any sense of togetherness has been fostered through virtual communications. They have yet to meet as an entire team in the auditorium in their new 335,000 foot facility in Henderson, Nevada.
Raider coach Jon Gruden has yet to meet with his entire team at one time at training camp in Henderson, Nevada.
“It’s a weird time right now because we haven’t utilized our entire facility,” Gruden said. “We haven’t had a team meeting. We haven’t had a group quarterback meeting or an offensive meeting or a defensive meeting. Everything is on quarantine. A lot of this facility is off-limits.”
From now until Aug. 17, the first day of pads, the Raiders will continue to work in an environment not even remotely familiar to training camps of the past.
“I guess were’ the guinea pigs trying to figure this out,” Carr told reporters Tuesday. “We have these little monitors on our arms, as soon as it starts blinking red, you’re too close to somebody. So everybody sees that and they start backing away from each other. But how do you do that as a receiver and a corner in a jam technique? We’re trying our best, but we’re hoping by the time that whoever is in the building, they’ve been tested so many times this is the safest place in all of Las Vegas.”
Until Aug. 17, the emphasis will be on strength and conditioning and walk-through sessions, which essentially are half speed (or less) choreography when the Raiders are considered acclimated to the climate and safe for contact.
“We’re going to do what the rules allow us to do,” Gruden said.
The first day in pads, coincidentally, will be a special day for Gruden in more ways than one as he turns 57 years old.
“That’s funny, that’s my birthday, what a great day that will be,” Gruden said.