Sep 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Las Vegas Raiders safety Jonathan Abram tackles Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster after a five yard gain in the first qwuarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders S Jonathan Abram (shoulder) done for season

Las Vegas Raiders safety Jonathan Abram is done for the season, it was determined Wednesday, and will have surgery Thursday to repair a shoulder injury.

Abram dislocated his shoulder during Monday night’s win against the Cleveland Browns and underwent an MRI exam one day later. NFL Network reported that the third-year pro considered playing through the pain but was advised by doctors to have the season-ending surgery.

Abram was ruled out of Monday’s game after getting hurt in the fourth quarter, missing his first defensive snaps of the 2021 season and finishing with nine tackles (two for losses).

The 25-year-old ranks second on the team with 116 tackles and has one interception and one fumble recovery through 14 starts for the Raiders (7-7).

A first-round pick in 2019, Abram is no stranger to shoulder injuries. He tore his rotator cuff and labrum during the first quarter of his NFL debut in the 2019 season opener and missed the rest of the campaign.

The Raiders host the Denver Broncos (7-7) on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders safety Johnathan Abram (24) against the Miami Dolphins at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Raiders S Johnathan Abram (shoulder) to have MRI

Las Vegas Raiders safety Johnathan Abram will have an MRI after sustaining a dislocated shoulder during Monday night’s win against the Cleveland Browns, NFL Network reported.

Abram was ruled out after getting hurt in the fourth quarter, missing his first defensive snaps of the 2021 season and finishing with nine tackles (two for losses).

Abram, 25, ranks second on the team with 116 tackles and has one interception and one fumble recovery through 14 starts for the Raiders (7-7).

A first-round pick in 2019, Abram is no stranger to shoulder injuries. He tore his rotator cuff and labrum during the first quarter of his NFL debut in the 2019 season opener and missed the rest of the campaign.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield congratulates quarterback Case Keenum after the team  s first quarter touchdown against the Denver Broncos on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 in Cleveland, at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns won the game 17-14. [Phil Masturzo/ Beacon Journal]

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Browns may need to take ‘next man up’ to extremes vs. Raiders

“Next man up” is a favorite adage of every football coach.

But “next 18 men up?”

That’s the predicament the Cleveland Browns find themselves in for Saturday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders, thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak that may leave them without their starting quarterback and head coach, among others.

The Browns learned Wednesday that quarterback Baker Mayfield and head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive and landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Since both have been vaccinated, NFL protocols state that they can return to the team after producing two negative tests 24 hours apart if they are free of symptoms.

The team has 18 players presently on that list, 11 of them starters.

Yet the Browns (7-6), who start Week 15 outside the AFC playoff picture after Sunday’s 24-22 home victory over AFC North leader Baltimore, are projecting confidence in the face of mounting odds.

“That is where we are,” Stefanski said. “We have been here before. I do not feel much different than I felt yesterday in terms of everybody has to step up depending on who is available.”

Cleveland is in the NFL’s enhanced protocols, which means daily testing for all tiered personnel, and full-time masking. The Browns held separate walk-throughs on Wednesday for offense, defense and special teams.

Mayfield, Stefanski and the team’s other additions to the COVID-19 list who are vaccinated could still return on Saturday for the home game should they produce the two negative tests.

Otherwise, Case Keenum would get his second start of the year at quarterback, with special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as interim coach and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt calling plays.

Priefer and Van Pelt guided Cleveland to a 48-37 first-round playoff win at Pittsburgh in January when Stefanski was sidelined due to COVID-19.

“I think the guys proved last year they don’t need me,” joked Stefanski.

Meanwhile, the Raiders (6-7) are pretty much in win-or-die mode after an embarrassing 48-9 defeat Sunday at Kansas City dropped them three games out of first in the AFC West with four games remaining.

To sneak into a playoff berth, the Raiders probably need to win out and get help down the stretch. But one thing that interim coach Rich Bisaccia says won’t enter the equation is frustration or disappointment after such a poor performance.

“I think it’s a wasted emotion,” he said. “I’m just trying to look at from my perspective, as coaches, ‘What can we do better? How can we help them, put them in better situations or better positions to help them play a little better?’

“I think all the emotions are just feelings that we have of what we didn’t do very well and how we’d like to fix them.”

Las Vegas has lost five of its last six games after going into its bye week at 5-2. Sunday’s blowout to the Chiefs featured nine penalties, five turnovers and four sacks in a comprehensive meltdown.

The Raiders own a 14-10 advantage in the all-time series with the Browns, including a 16-6 victory last year in Cleveland.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) warms up against the Dallas Cowboys before the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Defense carries streaking Chiefs into matchup with Raiders

The Kansas City Chiefs have recorded a winning streak of at least five games in nine consecutive seasons.

The suddenly hot Chiefs look to increase this season’s run to six straight when they host the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday in a pivotal AFC West matchup.

Kansas City (8-4) was viewed as an underachieving team when it was walloped 27-3 by the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 24 to fall to 3-4.

However, with their powerful offense sputtering, the Chiefs stepped it up on defense and have allowed just 11.2 points per game during the five-game streak.

The latest example was last weekend’s 22-9 win over Denver when the Broncos’ lone touchdown came in the latter half of the fourth quarter with the outcome decided.

“I still don’t think we played our best game yet,” Kansas City safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “Hopefully that game is the Super Bowl.”

Getting quarterback Patrick Mahomes untracked would help in that quest.

Mahomes has failed to throw a touchdown pass in each of the past two games and has been held under 200 passing yards twice in the past four contests. Against the Broncos, he was 15 of 29 for 184 yards and one interception.

The 22 points against Denver represented Kansas City’s second-highest output over the past six games. Also, Mahomes has thrown 12 interceptions this season, matching his career worst from 2018.

“Luckily enough, our defense is playing good enough that whenever (turnovers) happened, they’ve been able to get stops or get turnovers … and not let it impact the team,” Mahomes said Wednesday. “But you understand that turnovers are a huge part of this game.

“I’ll try to limit them as much as possible. But at the same time, I’ve just got to be me and I’ll continue to throw the football and give guys a chance to make plays.”

Perhaps the sight of the Raiders will spur on Mahomes. He notched his best all-round effort of the season when the Chiefs routed the Raiders 41-14 at Las Vegas in Week 10.

Mahomes completed 35 of 50 passes for a season-high 406 yards. He also matched a season best with five touchdown passes and wasn’t intercepted.

While the Chiefs have been ascending, the Raiders have been descending with losses in four of five games after a 5-2 start.

Las Vegas lost 17-15 to the Washington Football Team last week to mark the fourth time it was held to 16 or fewer points during the five-game stretch.

Quarterback Derek Carr had five 300-yard outings in the first seven games but has topped the figure just once during the team’s funk.

He definitely sees the need for a turnaround effort against the Chiefs.

“You can use urgency and all that, whatever. There’s a time and a place,” Carr said Wednesday. “But also you have to be smart, especially early in games. Especially against the team we’re about to play. You can’t be out there doing stupid things because their offense will make it 7-0 fast.”

Las Vegas is expected to be missing standout tight end Darren Waller (knee, back) for a second straight game. Waller didn’t practice Wednesday, and the club also placed running back Kenyan Drake (ankle) and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (ankle) on injured reserve.

One player stepping up for the Raiders is wideout Hunter Renfrow, who has 17 receptions for 236 yards over the past two games.

“Everyone’s going to say he’s a hard worker and he’s super smart, but he doesn’t get enough credit for how talented he is,” Carr said of Renfrow. “He’s also a very good football player from a talent perspective.”

Cornerback Chris Lammons (ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday for Kansas City after getting injured against the Broncos. Cornerback Rashad Fenton (knee) and offensive lineman Lucas Niang (ribs) were limited. Niang has missed the past three games while Fenton sat out versus Denver.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Raiders TE Darren Waller (knee) to have MRI

Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller will have an MRI on his injured left knee Friday, NFL Network reported.

Waller, 29, did not play in the second half of Thursday’s 36-33 overtime victory against the host Dallas Cowboys.

He grabbed his knee after being tackled following a 21-yard catch with 12:33 left in the first half.

He rode the bike on the sidelines and was examined at halftime before being ruled out by the team just after the start of the third quarter.

Waller had two receptions for 33 yards against the Cowboys. The 2020 Pro Bowl selection ranks second on Las Vegas (6-5) in receptions (53) and receiving yards (643) behind wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. Waller has two touchdowns in 10 games.

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is pressured by Las Vegas Raiders inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (44) during the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rivals Chiefs-Raiders meet amid logjam in AFC West

Every team in the AFC West has won five games, so a divisional clash at the midway point of the season brings about a potential tipping point.

A logjam heading into Week 10 is not a customary position for the Kansas City Chiefs (5-4), a winner of five straight division titles and host to the last three AFC championship games. Nonetheless, the Las Vegas Raiders (5-3) have a chance to exert their authority Sunday when they play host to the Chiefs.

Patrick Mahomes enters averaging fewer passing yards than Derek Carr, with questions swirling about the drop-off that has made the Chiefs quarterback look like a mere mortal. His 20 touchdown passes are offset by 10 interceptions, second most in the NFL. And he is coming off a mediocre 4.5 yards per attempt in a 13-7 win over a Green Bay Packers team missing Aaron Rodgers.

Each week becomes more confounding as Mahomes makes uncharacteristically poor choices, struggles with his accuracy and becomes more impatient attacking deep shell schemes that limit opportunities to connect downfield. To his credit, he vows to keep airing it out.

“Taking those shots during the game, even if they’re not connecting, kind of puts a little bit of a fear into the defense to know they can’t start jumping some of our routes,” Mahomes said.

The Chiefs have relied on touch passes, screens and short slants, while showing some reluctance to pound opponents with their run game, which ranks a serviceable 15th in the NFL at 4.6 yards per attempt.

At least the Kansas City defense looked much better in consecutive wins against the New York Giants and the Packers.

“It’s all about consistency,” said Chiefs defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi. “As long as we keep stacking good plays and have consistent effort, we’ll be fine.”

The Raiders can strike quickly through the air while featuring tight end Darren Waller, though Carr must regroup coming off a 23-16 loss to the Giants in which he committed three turnovers.

Carr ranks second in the NFL with a 320.6 passing yards per game and has 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He has not been prone to turnovers considering the Raiders have committed just eight giveaways compared to a league-high 19 by the Chiefs.

Support from running backs Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake could also be key in giving Las Vegas a complimentary attack.

“They are on the verge of maybe forming us a little bit of an identity running the football,” Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia said. “We’ve gotten to be a little bit better play-action team in the last few weeks. I think we’ve done a better job with our boots and our nakeds outside.”

The Raiders cut cornerback Damon Arnette this week after video surfaced of him making death threats. Arnette joined Henry Ruggs III, another 2020 first-round pick cut from the roster following a fatal DUI case that resulted in charges against the wide receiver.

Las Vegas signed veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson this week as a potential replacement for Ruggs. Kendal Vickers has been added to the 53-man roster to replace another defensive tackle, Darius Philon, who was placed on injured reserve.

Three injured Chiefs missed practice to begin the week: cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (ankle) as well as right tackles Mike Remmers (knee) and Lucas Niang (ribs). Three Raiders also missed practice: cornerback Keisean Nixon, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski and defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins.

The Chiefs cleared Kyle Long (leg), who has been out since missing the entire preseason camp. Kansas City coach Andy Reid said the opportunity “to move around a little bit doing football,” is most important for Long, a versatile offensive lineman.

–Field Level Media

Dec 13, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (11) against the Indianapolis Colts at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Police: Raiders’ Henry Ruggs charged with felony DUI

Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs was charged with felony DUI resulting in death, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department announced Tuesday.

An accident involving the 22-year-old player happened at 3:39 a.m. local time in Las Vegas. Metro police say that Ruggs was driving a Chevrolet Corvette. Police believe the Corvette slammed into the rear of a Toyota Rav4, causing it to catch fire. Fire department personnel responded and located a deceased victim inside the Toyota.

Ruggs remained on the scene and showed signs of impairment. He was transported to UMC hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Photos from the scene showed heavy damage to both vehicles.

Ruggs has 24 catches for 469 yards and two touchdowns in seven starts this season.

The 2020 first-round pick (No. 12 overall) caught 26 passes for 452 yards and two scores in 13 games (12 starts) in his rookie season.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead (83) makes a catch during warm ups before an AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders release veteran WR Willie Snead

The Las Vegas Raiders have released veteran wide receiver Willie Snead, his agent told ESPN on Tuesday.

Drew Rosenhaus said his client “wasn’t playing much and asked for the release.”

“There will be a market for him,” Rosenhaus added.

Snead has played in all seven games this season, but just 38 snaps on offense and 38 on special teams. He has three catches for 32 yards.

Snead, 29, spent three seasons each with the New Orleans Saints (2015-17) and Baltimore Ravens (2018-20). He has 278 receptions for 3,425 yards and 16 touchdowns in 93 career games (48 starts).

–Field Level Media

Oct 4, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) celebrates after catching a pass for a touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Raiders’ Darren Waller game-time call vs. Eagles

Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller is considered a game-time decision for Sunday’s home game against the Philadelphia Eagles, ESPN reported.

Waller, who is listed as questionable, injured his ankle and heel during Friday’s practice. His status for Sunday’s contest depends on how he feels during pregame warmups, per the report.

Waller, 29, was a Pro Bowl selection last season when he had a franchise-record 107 receptions for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns in 16 games — 15 starts.

In six games this season, Waller leads the Raiders with 33 catches for 378 yards and two TDs.

If Waller can’t play on Sunday, Foster Moreau is the Raiders’ backup at tight end. Moreau, 24, has four receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown in six games this season.

–Field Level Media