NAPA – Gareon Conley signed his rookie contract on Friday night, allowing him to participate fully in his first Raiders training camp. If only he were able.
The first-round cornerback watched Saturday's practice from the sideline, and was formally placed on the physically unable to perform list with an undisclosed injury suffered in June's mandatory minicamp.
He missed the last two practices of the offseason program finale and wasn't ready for the opening workout at the Napa Valley Marriott. Conley skipped four days pre-camp instruction working out contract details and could miss more practice time before being cleared.
How much of a setback will that be for someone being counted on to make an immediate impact? It ultimately depends on total time missed. Right now, it's far too early to worry.
"He's a bright kid," Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. "We expect to get him back shortly. He's on the mend right now. We knew that. We're glad to have him here in camp, being here and being around the guys and being able to hear and see what we're doing and how we're doing it. That certainly helps. He's a bright guy, and was doing a really good job prior to having the setback in the offseason."
Conley had a play card on the sideline to follow along in practice, an attempt to be in position to hit the ground running once he's healthy. That's important for someone expected to play slot cornerback and challenge Sean Smith and David Amerson for a spot outside in the base defense.
Conley is a glider with speed and stick cover skills, and he's certainly impressed the Raiders since coming on board.
"He's doing a great job, and it's obvious that football means a lot to him," Del Rio said. "He's the kind of young man who is going to work hard to understand his assignment and understand his responsibilities."
Injury isn't the only factor that could complicate his development. Conley remains the subject of an ongoing investigation stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland where he was accused of sexual assault. He has not been arrested or charged with a crime. A FOX affiliate in Cleveland reports that Conley's investigation is nearing its end, and that the matter could be put before a grand jury as early as next week. That could end his legal woes or expand them exponentially, creating real issues for the Raiders and their first-round pick.
Getting physically right is Conley's current concern, so he doesn't fall behind when the Raiders need him playing well ahead of the curve.
-- Backup QB EJ Manuel took more second-team reps that second-year pro Connor Cook, and had a better day throwing the ball. Manuel connected with Johnny Holton on a long-bomb down the right sideline that was easily the catch of the day.
-- Undrafted rookie CB Breon Borders continues to impress, and made an athletic interception after a Manuel pass clanged off Clive Walford's hands.
-- Walford struggled on the aforementioned pass, but rebound well with a few nice catches in traffic.
-- DT Treyvon Hester, a seventh-round pick, stayed with the first unit after playing there at the end of the offseason program.
-- Fans cheer Marshawn Lynch at every turn. He's immensely popular among East Bay fans, and enjoyed applause whenever he touched the ball in team drills.
-- Conley, Jon Feliciano and Jihad Ward were placed on the active/physically unable to perform list. Mario Edwards Jr. and Bruce Irvin were put on the non-football injury list, meaning they got hurt working out on their own.