Aug/28/15 09:01 AM Filed in: Clive Walford
We still don't know the exact injury holding back Raiders rookie tight end Clive Walford, but it kept him out of practice again Thursday.
Head coach Jack Del Rio recently insisted not to add any "drama" to his absence, but offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave admitted Thursday that it certainly hasn't been a positive for the Raiders.
"Missing Clive is significant for our team, for him personally," Musgrave said after practice Thursday. "It's given more opportunities to Brian (Leonhardt) and Gabe (Holmes), but the tight end group is doing a nice job for us."
While that's great for Leonhardt and Holmes, it's not exactly what the Raiders had in mind when they took Walford with a third-round pick back in May.
Walford did play in the Raiders' first preseason game and played well, catching two passes for 28 yards. However, according to RaidersBeat.com, he's been available just four days since training camp opened at the end of July. That's a big hurdle to overcome for any player, particularly a rookie trying to learn a new offense and adjust to the NFL.
The expectation was for Walford to be a versatile tight end in Oakland right from the start. With Mychal Rivera established as a pass catcher and Lee Smith brought in as a blocking specialist, Walford was considered an athletic, physical guy who could do a little bit of both at 6-foot-4, 258 pounds.
Instead, it's been primarily Rivera and Smith, with undrafted rookie Holmes and undrafted third-year player Leonhardt receiving extra reps. Although the Raiders would like to have Walford back in the mix, the presence of Rivera and Smith gives the team some stability at an important position while they wait for their rookie to recover.
"They're the glue that holds us together," Musgrave said of the tight ends. "They've got to do it all -- pass protect, run block and catch balls. Both Mychal and Lee, we know we can count on."