The Oakland Raiders went through the entire 2014 season without the quarterback of their defense after middle linebacker Nick Roach sustained a concussion in the preseason. While there are times that players can come back from a concussion after just one week, things are still not better for Roach.
With coaches and general managers collected for the combine this week, Reggie McKenzie had a chance to sit down with reporters. Among the topics discussed was Roach’s availability, or lack thereof.
McKenzie said Roach has not been cleared for concussion. He said it’s “not good.” Says long term health most important. #Raiders
— Bill Williamson (@BWilliamsonESPN) February 18, 2015
I’ve heard #Raiders MLB Nick Roach (concussions) still gets headaches & won’t play next season, so I ran it by GM Reggie McKenzie today …
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) February 18, 2015
Vic Tafur went on to say that Roach is still working out at the Raiders facility but will not comment on his status. At 29 years old, Roach is young enough to play in the league for a few more years, but with a concussion that’s lingered for six months it’s probably time he hangs up the cleats. It’s not ideal for the Raiders, who already have too many holes on the roster. It’s the worst-case scenario for Roach, who clearly still wants to play. However, McKenzie is right — long-term health should come before football.
Roach, who originally entered the league as an outside linebacker with the Chicago Bears, moved inside as a replacement for the then-injured Brian Urlacher. He then came to the Raiders and played a large role in their defense — Roach had 5.5 sacks, 83 tackles and four forced fumbles in 2013 — his value to the team became even more evident by the way the team suffered in his absence. Though there has been nothing official about his retirement, it’s clear that the Raiders need to act as though he has already made the call. Even if he does decide to give it another go and gets the medical clearance, the team can’t afford to go into the season without a backup plan.