The Oakland Raiders have made some moves of late, but don’t think they aren’t considering more in the coming days or weeks. With the injuries they’ve had to overcome and the different roster moves they’ve made to counteract those injuries, they’ve even lost a player or two that they wish they hadn’t.
One player they haven’t lost, but don’t intend to use, is Javon Walker. Cable made it clear on Monday that Javon Walker isn’t going to replace anyone during a game anytime soon.
If he can’t supplant Todd Watkins for the third receiver and the rest of the receivers are injured, he’s not going to play when those guys return.Chaz Schilens has been out with a broken bone in his foot, but the boot came off today and head coach Tom Cable said he’s day to day. Rookie Nick Miller is still in a boot with fracture in his leg and Johnnie Lee Higgins has been progressing with a shoulder injury. Higgins will probably play, but Cable said that he’s dealing with mental issues regarding the injury.
I think with Johnnie Lee, he is out there, but I think if you notice he’s not able to cut it loose yet. And so that has to be addressed this week. We had a couple opportunities there with the punt return, where we misplayed the one ball, and the one before that we actually had a chance to get a return and he ran out of bounds. So we’ve got to get him back, I think mentally, through this thing.
– Tom Cable on Higgins’ return to the field as a receiver
If none of those receivers step on the field this Sunday, Javon Walker will go into the game as the fourth option–not the first option he was originally brought to Oakland to be.
So what happens when Schilens, Higgins, and Miller come back? Do the Raiders really need seven receivers when their quarterback hasn’t been able to get them the ball?
When asked why Walker wasn’t playing more, Cable replied, “I think it’s just a matter of is he ready to go in and take someone else’s job.” Those players who hold the jobs he’s talking about are rookies Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Cable went on to talk about the rookies, “I mean, the production up until yesterday by those young receivers has been there.”
If Cable doesn’t intend to use Walker, then the Raiders need to shop him around and see what they can get in return. If they’re holding on to the former star receiver so that he’ll mentor the young guys, they might find that these young guys are being tutored by a disgruntled employee by the end of the season.
I feel like right now it’s not so decisive one way or the other, whether it was taking Louis Murphy our or taking Darrius Heyward-Bey out. If you watch Darrius, his opportunities are coming more, albeit one or two at a time, but they’re coming more. He’s catching the ball, he’s open more. You see it coming. When you look at that you’d retard it if you took him off the field. I don’t think that would be the right thing to do.
– Tom Cable on why Walker isn’t playing
The risk/reward of that is too much risk for an unknown value of reward. The last thing that the Raiders need is someone unhappy with the organization helping the new guys become disgruntled as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Walker. From what I’ve seen, he’s been a great role model and mentor to the rookies–something Jeff Garcia never appeared to be to JaMarcus Russell. He deserves an opportunity to play. He restructured his contract, worked hard to get back on the field, and he looks pretty good when he has been on the practice field.
The only thing that appears to be an issue is the knee operation that Walker had during the offseason, without the team’s knowledge. The details of the experimental knee surgery Walker had still isn’t clear, but the results sure seem to say that it worked.
The Raiders could use a draft pick, and most likely one of the 32 NFL teams could use a receiver they intend to play. If the Raiders are sitting the veteran on the sidelines as part of a grudge, they are only doing themselves the disservice.
Life, and careers, are just too short to hold grudges.