Well into August, the Raiders have not had their top rookie on the field at any point this offseason. Defensive end Tyree Wilson remains on the non-football injury list while recovering from surgery which addressed a Lisfranc injury.
The Raiders expected him to be activated in time for the start of training camp, but that has still yet to take place. Wilson was one of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s edge class due to his injury history. Vegas remained high on him, however, and stayed put at the No. 7 slot to select him. Despite his continued absence, head coach Josh McDaniels is confident Wilson will be cleared for the start of the season.
“I’m going to hope so,” McDaniels said, via Tashan Reed of The Athletic, when asked about Wilson’s projected Week 1 readiness (subscription required). “As soon as he’s ready, he’s going to be out there. There’s been nothing that has told us that that’s not going to happen.”
Wilson put up underwhelming numbers at Texas A&M but his production jumped considerably after transferring to Texas Tech. He posted 14 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss across his two years with the Red Raiders, putting him firmly on the first-round radar. Wilson should be expected to serve in a rotational role behind Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones to start his pro career. The Raiders eyed Wilson in part to ease the workload of the latter two, but missed reps in training camp will surely hinder his early development.
In another development on the D-line, Jerry Tillery has seen time at defensive end during camp (Twitter link via Reed). The former Chargers first-rounder has primarily been used on the inside during his career, but his skillset has always lent itself more to pass-rush production than run defense. Especially with Wilson sidelined, there have been snaps available for Tillery – whom the Raiders claimed off waivers and subsequently re-signed on a two-year deal – to try his hand at practicing as a base end.
It will be interesting to see if the Tillery experiment continues once Wilson is cleared to return. The team is confident that will happen soon, and his presence will be welcomed as the Raiders look to turn the corner defensively compared to last season.