The Raiders decided to place second-round pick Obi Melifonwu on IR earlier this week, but the team is not counting on the safety missing his entire rookie season. Melifonwu is expected to return after eight weeks and be one of Oakland’s two IR-DTR players, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The UConn product is recovering from knee surgery and will use the season’s first two months to rehab. The Raiders have seen their top two draft picks struggle to see the field due to injuries thus far; Gareon Conley missed most of Oakland’s preseason work due to a shin malady. Both are eyed as contributors in a secondary that struggled throughout 2016.
Here’s the latest coming out of the West divisions before the defending AFC West champion Chiefs debut against the Super Bowl champion Patriots.
- For now, new Cardinals guard Alex Boone will serve as a backup. “He’s just learning,” coach Bruce Arians told reporters (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). “We’ll see. Right now, it’d probably have to be an injury or someone really fail badly. … We’ll see. Right now, it’d probably have to be an injury or someone really fail badly.” Boone started for five straight seasons, lining up as a first-teamer for the 49ers and Vikings.
- Despite Patrick Mahomes‘ impressive preseason, the Chiefs‘ plan remains to shelve the rookie quarterback throughout the 2017 season, Rapoport notes (video link). Rapoport also said the possibility of Mahomes sitting to start next season remains in play, adding the team drafted the Texas Tech product knowing he’d be a one- or two-year project. Rapoport adds the Chiefs believed Mahomes was the draft’s best quarterback and they thought four teams would pull the trigger to select him had they not made the trade up to No. 10. Alex Smith‘s contract may also dictate the franchise’s decision. The Chiefs can save $17MM by moving on from their longtime starter after this season, but it’s clear they see a firm line between Smith and Mahomes’ present readiness levels.
- Chargers rookie Mike Williams is now off the PUP list but has yet to resume running routes full speed, Anthony Lynn said (via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk). Recovering from a back injury, Williams has resumed catching passes. Rapoport reported the first-round pick’s likely return date will be in October.
- If the Rams are going to sign Aaron Donald to an extension, the deal will have to make the defensive lineman the NFL’s highest-paid defender. Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes the team understands this. Von Miller‘s six-year, $114.6MM contract represents that standard presently, and Ndamukong Suh‘s six-year, $114MM Dolphins deal is the high-water mark for interior defenders. Los Angeles is not expected to have Donald this week as his holdout stretches into Month 3.
- Sebastian Janikowski‘s small pay cut — from $4MM to $3MM this season — induced Rapoport to suggest this adjustment would free up space for a potential Donald Penn payment (Twitter link). The Raiders left tackle recently returned to the team and is entering the final year of his contract, but it’s clear the 34-year-old blocker is not exactly a content employee.