Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley to be OK after leaving field on stretcher

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ALAMEDA — Gareon Conley, who injured his neck in Monday night’s 24-16 win over the Denver Broncos, is doing well enough that coach Jon Gruden isn’t ruling him out of playing in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Happy to see that Gareon Conley seems to be doing OK,” Gruden said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “I think there’s a chance he might be able to play this week, but we’ll have to update his status tomorrow.”

The Raiders did not specify the exact nature of Conley’s injury, but Conley updated the fan base on Twitter. In it, Conley thanked fans for their concern, said his neck was injured, and that proper protocol was followed.

Conley, 24, was i njured on his 45th snap of the game. As he was attempting to tackle Denver’s Royce Freeman down the sideline, teammate and safety Johnathan Abrams came over to lend support and his thigh struck Conley’s head. Conley immediately went to the ground and stayed there until attended by medical staff.

The third-year cornerback out of Ohio State was strapped to a cervical board and then taken off the field on a cart. He was able to give the crowd a “thumbs up” as he was being taken from the field. Conley was replaced by Trayvon Mullen, a rookie second-round draft pick out of Clemson.

After the game, Abram wasn’t even aware he had come in contact with Conley as he pursued Freeman.

“You kind of have to shake it off and keep going,” Abram said. I really didn’t see what happened. I think the running back fell on top of him or something. We were praying for him. But we had to go out there and finish the game for him.”

Safety Karl Joseph conceded it took a moment to be refocused on the game.

“It was hard. He’s a big part of this defense,” Joseph said. “When you see a teammate like that go down it’s past football. You think about his health and his safety. We heard that he’s OK, so hopefully we can have him back for next week.”

Conley graded out as one of the NFL’s better cover corners last season and it was hoped he would take another step this season after remaining healthy through training camp. Conley had a stress fracture that wiped out virtually all of his rookie season. He played in just two games.

Last season, a hip injury kept Conley out for much of the Napa portion of training camp. He ended up playing 15 games with 14 starts with three interceptions.”

Denver quarterback Joe Flacco went after Mullen when he entered for Conley. Emmanuel Sanders blew past Mullen on one play for a 50-yard gain that helped set up a touchdown.

“He’s got to play better,” Gruden said. “He’s had some moments that he struggled, he gambled and lost in a situation I don’t think he should gamble there. But I’m not going to criticize him here today. He’s a guy that’s a rookie. He missed a lot of time in camp, and he does have talent. I expect him to pick it up.”

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