Nick Nelson Now Full-time Slot CB With Raiders Moving Leon Hall to IR

ALAMEDA -- Leon Hall missed last week's loss to Baltimore with a back issue. He's had them before, and had surgery in 2016 to repair a disc.

The exact nature of this year's back problem remains unknown, but it's enough to end his season. The Raiders formally did so Friday, placing him on injured reserve.

They signed cornerback Montrel Meander in a corresponding move. He played safety in the preseason, but can play anywhere in the secondary. He spent most of the season on Cleveland's practice squad.

Rookie Nick Nelson had already been eating into Hall's playing time before the injury, and he'll take over in the slot full-time. Head coach Jon Gruden, when talking about the prospect of Hall's absence, said safety Marcus Gilchrist would be Nelson's backup.

Hall was an excellent mentor to Nelson and several young cornerbacks now featured prominently on this team. He was strong on the inside all season, and had 25 tackles and three passes defensed in in 10 games played. The 33-year old Michigan alum has played 12 seasons with four teams, primarily with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Raiders coaches and players are high on Nelson, a fourth-round draft pick from Wisconsin. He has had some rookie moments since becoming active on game days – he spent most of the spring and summer recovering from meniscus surgery – but has showed solid ability in most coverage situations.

"He's a great player, honestly," fellow Raiders cornerback Daryl Worley said. "The biggest thing I tell him is, don't be afraid to fail. The best way to learn as a rookie is through experience. …I tell him to be confident and do what you do you. Don't overthink it. Just play."

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