With Edwards Down, Autry Will Step Up

Third-year defensive lineman Denico Autry will have to pick up the slack with Mario Edwards Jr. sidelined with a hip injury

An injury to Mario Edwards Jr. will keep the Raiders’ second-year defensive end out of the lineup for several weeks.

It’s a blow to the defense, but at least the hip injury won’t require surgery or sideline Edwards for the season. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio says Edwards should be available for the bulk of the 2016 season.

“Mario is going to be out a few weeks,” Del Rio told reporters Tuesday. “That’s unfortunate, but he will return, and it’s not going to require surgery.”

That means Denico Autry – who played well in 2015 – will have to step in at defensive end to take Edwards’ snaps.

Autry recently returned to all activities after a wrist injury. In the team’s first exhibition game Friday vs. Arizona, he played with a cast on his right hand to protect the wrist. Del Rio says he believes Autry can hold the fort until Edwards returns. Undrafted rookie free agent James Cowser also is expected to get more snaps at the position.

“He looked a little rusty the other night,” Del Rio told Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group. “He’s got some work to do, and he knows that. He’s a high-energy guy. He was with us last year, so we kind of know what we can count on from him.”

Autry, a 6-foot-5, 273-pounder in his third NFL season from Mississippi State, played 14 games for the Raiders in 2015, including eight starts. He was in on 22 tackles, had three sacks and batted down three passes. He also blocked three kicks in 2015, the highest number in the NFL. He saw limited action in 10 games for the Raiders in 2014.

Autry admits he’s working his way back into playing shape after missing the team’s offseason program, but he believes it will be a rapid process.

“It was tough man, had a little setback, but you know I got to keep scrapping every day to get back to where I was at and get better,” Autry told a writer for Raiders.com recently. “I’ve been in the playbook a lot, film, (the coaching staff) lets us take the iPads with us, so I’ve pretty much been in the playbook a lot.”

The Raiders will travel to Green Bay for their second exhibition game, a matchup with the Packers Thursday night.

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