New day, same result. Obi Melifonwu stays on the shelf with a lower-body injury. Exactly which specific body part remains unknown. Either the specialist did not diagnose the or they have and the team is playing coy. Either way, it is clear that Jon Gruden appears restless when asked about Melifonwu. You can see his bitterness when he provides the same answers. The Gruden retorts read many ways. Is evaluation not only regarding Melifonwu’s physical health, but his viability as a long-term Raider?
The last big update came last week. When reports surfaced the nagging lower-body issue could relate to the hip. Last years, hip issues cost Melifonwu most of 2017.
Can the Raiders afford to wait on the physically gifted (Melifonwu stands 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds and can run like a spooked gazelle) as the regular season approaches?
Alternatively, would the team be better of sending him to injured reserve with the potential to return later this season?
Those two inquiries are likely rhetorical questions at this point. IR seems an inevitable conclusion. Stash him on the reserve list, allow him to get healthy and, if he is able to return this year, give him a shot after designated Week 8 return window.
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Nevertheless, it is difficult to ignore the lack of optimism in Gruden’s voice. When the Obi topic is brought up, the tone shifts. It is vastly different from the hope he showed when speaking of Gareon Conley. Conley returned from injury against the Los Angeles Rams last Saturday. .
Barring recovery, 2018 will eerily resemble 2017 for Melifonwu. Also, he will see more of the training staff than his teammates.
If healthy, Melifonwu could have carved out a role in the depth-heavy safety spot for the Raiders. Karl Joseph, along with veterans Reggie Nelson and Marcus Gilchrist are the starting safeties Yet, Gruden strongly hinted Melifonwu sat behind Erik Harris.
Youth and mystery will keep Melifonwu a Raider. He is still young and the team needs to what he can do when healthy. He made plays at UConn. His college tape is hard to ignore.