A Leg To Stand On: Raiders Rookie Conley In Limbo

Oakland Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley
Sep 17, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley (22) warms up before the game against the New York Jets at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Jack Del Rio stresses patience when it comes to heralded yet injured rookie cornerback Gareon Conley.

“I don’t really want to try and paint it in those terms or try and speak to his situation in those terms,” the Oakland Raiders head coach said when prompted with questions regarding the first-round pick’s return. “I think we are going to be patient and do the right thing at the right time with him.

“We were trying to kind of get him going and see if we could get a little bit (out of him) and it just didn’t really appear to be making the kind of progress we need to make.”

Patience. That is something an ever-increasingly frustrated fan base is losing at an exponential rate as the Raiders losses keep mounting.

Conley hasn’t played — and more importantly, practiced — since a Week 3 appearance in the drubbing against Washington. He remains on the shelf as the team preps for a Sunday night tilt with the Miami Dolphins.

When pushed further on the Conley situation and asked if the former Ohio State Buckeye’s season is over, Del Rio refused to throw in the towel.

“I think it’s too early to speculate on that,” Del Rio said. “The idea now is to really get him healthy and let him return to action when he’s ready to be himself. And until then, just be patient.”

The “P” word again. Although, with the lengthy timeframe Conley has been ailing from a “shin” injury, patient is more apt term. The time away from the field has given Con Man plenty of time to engage in social media activities, much to the chagrin of Raider Nation.

“I know it’s hella people that doubted before and during the game that’s celebrating right now  … you should be ashamed of yourselves bums,” Conley tweeted after Oakland’s thrilling win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7.

But, regardless of you animosity towards that incendiary tweet, fact remains there is a lot riding on Conley. This is how truly desperate the situation is: Despite only playing two games this season, the projected shadow corner showed well enough to provide much-needed hope to a secondary unit devoid of it.

Besieged by injury and ineffectiveness, Oakland’s defensive backfield has been downright offensive to the eyes.

Conley’s stride-for-stride coverage of New York Jets wide receiver Jermaine Kearse showed Oakland something cornerbacks have rarely done this year, cover. Conley’s eventual pass deflection brought raucous approval from the Raider faithful.

One play equals hope. Did I mention that’s how far the secondary has fallen?

Win, lose, or draw against the Dolphins this Sunday and the Raiders head into an opportune bye week. That same hiatus from the weekly grind of game prep gives Oakland plenty of time for players and coaches alike to recuperate. That means seeing up close if Conley is a go or not.

“So, when he can do things that he needs to do and he gets cleared to come back and be full-speed for us, then we’ll know,” Del Rio said of getting Conley back on the field.

The bye should end once and for all the Con Man debate. That week should either culminate in Conley landing on season-ending injured reserve or back at practice. A rookie corner needs all the live snaps it can get, meaningful or not.

Because it’s high time for Del Rio to end this charade, if it is one. While Del Rio practices patience and hope, there’s another way to describe “hope” — a lie.


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