ALAMEDA — First-round pick Gareon Conley had a disappointing end to his rookie year with the Raiders when he was placed on injured reserve Monday after playing only two games all season.
Oakland drafted Conley 24th overall in hopes that the cornerback could boost a secondary that struggled a year ago. He showed flashes of good play during the offseason program but hasn’t been able to stay healthy since first injuring his shin during minicamp in June.
Conley missed all of training camp and played just two games in September before being sidelined again.
“It’s just people’s bodies are different, when you have those type injuries, you wait and see if it can heal and feel better and good enough to play early in the season,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said last week. “He was feeling better, then he had a setback.”
Conley broke up a pass the first time he was tested against the New York Jets in Week 2. He played 93 snaps over two games and recorded seven tackles.
With Conley sidelined, the Raiders have struggled again in the secondary with starter David Amerson missing time with injuries and Sean Smith having his playing time reduced because of ineffectiveness.
The Raiders are the first team in NFL history to fail to record a single interception in the first nine games of the season. Oakland’s opponents have a 110.5 passer rating and have completed 71.2 percent of their passes, which both rank as the third highest in NFL history.
“There’s no question we miss him,” McKenzie said. “He came in hitting the ground running. We felt really good about him during the offseason until he got kicked and that’s the way it is. But he is a good football player and he will have a great career.”
The Raiders (4-5) return from the bye this week in need of a strong finish to get back to the playoffs. A four-game losing streak early in the year set Oakland back and now the Raiders have little margin for error. They start their home stretch this week when they travel to Mexico City to play a “home” game against the New England Patriots.
Oakland also must make trips to first-place Kansas City and Philadelphia, as well as Los Angeles for the season finale against the Chargers.
The Raiders reinstated defensive tackle Darius Latham to take Conley’s spot. Latham had been suspended four games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
After years of planning, dealing and getting millions in public financing approved, the Raiders broke ground Monday on a 65,000-seat domed stadium in Las Vegas, across I-15 from the city’s famous casinos.
Contractors will be working under an ambitious timeline as the team wants to kick off the 2020 season at the new stadium. But the Raiders have yet to reach crucial agreements for the $1.9 billion project and now stand to lose millions under the tax reform bill House Republicans unveiled earlier month.
The Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas was a plan years in the making that began when NFL owners shot down their plans to move to Los Angeles. Shortly after, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson announced his interest in helping build a domed stadium on the UNLV campus that could be shared by a pro team and the school.