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DE Edwards questionable for Raiders’ season opener

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POSTED August 15, 2016 11:12 p.m.

NAPA (AP) — The Oakland Raiders lost two players to injuries in the exhibition opener with starting defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. sidelined by a hip injury and tight end Gabe Holmes out with an ankle injury.

Coach Jack Del Rio said Monday that Edwards will miss a “few weeks” but won’t need surgery after getting injured Friday night at Arizona. Holmes has a more significant injury — a high ankle sprain and a broken bone in the ankle that could put him on season-ending injured reserve.

With the season set to start in less than four weeks, Edwards’ status for the opener at New Orleans is now in question. After having his rookie season cut short by a neck injury, Edwards was being counted on as a key cog on Oakland’s defensive line with his ability to be a strong force on the outside against the run or rush the passer from the inside.

Edwards, a second-round pick out of Florida State in 2015, made 10 starts as a rookie and was emerging as a key player on Oakland’s improving defense late last season before getting hurt. Edwards had 2 1/2 sacks, provided pressure on the quarterback and was stout against the run.

The injury to Edwards will give more opportunity to Denico Autry, who started eight games last year. Autry had 20 tackles and three sacks last season after making the team the previous year as an undrafted free agent from Mississippi State.

“It’s cool to work with the starters but it’s pretty much the next-man-up thing,” Autry said.

 “I just have to show them what I got and what I can do.”

Autry missed the start of training camp with a wrist injury and is still wearing a cast on his right arm. Del Rio said Autry showed rust on Friday night in Arizona but brings a high energy level and versatility to the defense.

“He’s a rugged, athletic guy that can kind of go in between, outside or inside,” Del Rio said. “He plays typically sub for us as a tackle, and as an end in base. We like him. He’s a good, rugged player.”

Holmes spent most of last season on the practice squad after impressing the Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of Purdue. He was promoted to the active roster in November but did not appear in any games.

Holmes was expected to compete with Mychal Rivera for the third tight end spot behind Lee Smith and Clive Walford.

NOTES: Starting MLB Ben Heeney left practice limping after getting tangled up in pass coverage but tweeted later that “I’m good.” ... OL Torian White was waived.

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