Coming off a disappointing loss to the Chiefs last Thursday night, the Raiders hope to rebound with a win over the Chargers Sunday in San Diego.
One thing that certainly will help will be the return of starting left guard Kelechi Osemele.
Osemele was a last-minute scratch from the Kansas City game because of an undisclosed illness, forcing rookie Vadal Alexander into the lineup in his place. Later, Osemele told the media he'd had a kidney stone. Though Alexander held his own and wasn’t the reason the Raiders lost, the return of Osemele is good news. The lineman, signed as a free agent this past offseason, ranks among the most outstanding players on the Raiders roster this season.
Osemele was one of six Raiders selected by the analytic website Pro Football Focus to its Pro Bowl team Tuesday (along with QB Derek Carr, left tackle Donald Penn, center Rodney Hudson, defensive end Khalil Mack and punter Marquette King).
As the 10-3 Raiders get ready to make their three-game final push toward the playoffs, getting a healthy Osemele back in the lineup helps solidify an offensive line that has been one of Oakland’s strengths.
On Wednesday, Pro Football Focus also named Osemele as one of the 10 best free-agent signings for this season, at No. 2.
Wrote Michael Renner of PFF: “Osemele has done as much as a guard feasibly can do to live up to a $10+ million a year deal this season. He’s currently Pro Football Focus’ second-highest-graded guard and has only allowed seven total pressures all season long, with no sacks. At only 27 years old and locked up for four more seasons after this one, the Raiders would make this deal again in a heartbeat.”
Osemele tweeted this week that he’s made “a full recovery” from the kidney stone and is back on the field practicing with his teammates and preparing for the Chargers.
Osemele told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com that he started feeling pain from the stone about 2 a.m. on game day. It eventually passed on its own, Osemele said.
Sunday’s game against the 5-8 Chargers is set for 1:25 p.m.