Injury Report: M. Smith's Absence Puts Strain on Raiders LBs

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have some injury issues building this week as they head toward Sunday’s home game against San Diego.

They’ll have to press on without tight end Lee Smith, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

It also seems increasingly likely they’ll be without linebacker Malcolm Smith, some who has played nearly every defensive snap since signing here before the 2015 season.

He suffered a groin strain late in the third quarter of Sunday’s victory at Baltimore. He has not practiced or played since. That includes Thursday’s non-padded practice, his second missed session this week.

Playing without him would be a significant blow. The Raiders placed Ben Heeney on injured reserve Tuesday with an ankle injury also suffered playing defense against Baltimore.

Cory James will start at middle linebacker, but options next to him aren’t great. Daren Bates stepped in for Heeney, but is a career special teams player. Veteran Perry Riley is certainly a capable player, though he has only been a Raider since Tuesday.

“Perry’s smart, he’s a veteran. He knows what he’s doing,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. “He looks the way a linebacker’s supposed to look. He still runs very well, he’s going to help us.”

If the Raiders roster remains as currently constructed, the interior linebacker spot would be three men deep even Malcolm Smith can’t go.

Top running back Latavius Murray also missed a second day’s work with a toe injury that is reportedly turf toe – caused by strained ligaments around the big toe – but the Raiders and Murray still hope he can play. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said the team is trying to build shoes that could help alleviate pain and play against the Chargers.

Tight end Clive Walford returned to practice in a limited capacity after missing Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury.

Right tackle Austin Howard was limited a second straight day. It’s likely Vadal Alexander will start a second straight game.

Chargers participation report
Did not practice: S Jahleel Addae (collarbone), LB Nick Dzubnar (knee), CB Brandon Flowers (concussion), CB Jason Verrett (knee), LB Denzel Perryman (shoulder)
Limited practice: OT Joe Barksdale (foot), OT King Dunlap (illness), TE Antonio Gates (hamstring), CB Craig Mager (shoulder)
Full participation: DL Joey Bosa (hamstring), OL Orlando Franklin (knee), OT Chris Hairston (groin), LB Joshua Perry (knee)

Raiders participation report
Did not practice: S Nate Allen (quad), Latavius Murray (toe), LB Malcolm Smith (quad), OT Menelik Watson (calf)
Limited participation: OT Austin Howard (ankle), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), OT Matt McCants (knee), TE Clive Walford (knee)

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