The Oakland Raiders have already seen two of their top three tight ends (David Ausberry and Nick Kasa) and one of their starting cornerbacks (D.J. Hayden) go down with injuries. Now fullback Marcel Reece is out indefinitely with a foot ailment. Given the Raiders history of not sharing any news on injuries unless they have to, we may not know the severity Reece’s injury until he’s ready to return. We still have not received any real prognosis on either Ausberry or Kasa, and should expect the same radio silence for Reece.
Anyone who has been following the Raiders in recent years knows Reece is one of the more exciting players on the team, but he’s also the most underutilized. Known as a matchup nightmare, the former college wide receiver is big enough to lay down punishing blocks and drive the ball up the gut, but also fast enough to give linebackers issues covering him in the passing game. But despite these skills, he’s never averaged as many as seven touches per game in any of his five seasons in Oakland.
That looked to change this season, thanks to a rash of injuries at the tight end position. The Raiders weren’t ready to move Reece to a new position, but they envisioned using him in roles traditionally reserved for tight ends at times to fix the depth issue. Head coach Dennis Allen said not to expect Reece to be lineup as an in-line blocker very often, mirroring the typical position of a tight end, but that Reece would be used in very similar ways to tight end Mychal Rivera when it comes to the passing game.
So while it was painful to lose Ausberry, who many believed would be a key part of the Raiders offense … if it meant seeing more of Reece, most were OK with that. Both Reece and Ausberry are converted wide receivers, but Reece has adapted to his new role much more quickly and successfully than Ausberry. Pretty much anyone who has watched the team closely would have more confidence in the ability of Reece to play consistently at tight end than Ausberry. Unfortunately, we may never know if that confidence would have been justified.
Only the Raiders know the true nature of Reece’s injury. But if it’s serious, their tight end situation just went from bad to worse.