ALAMEDA (AP) — The Oakland Raiders finally got their first-round draft pick on the practice field when cornerback Gareon Conley passed his physical and was taken off the physically unable to perform list Tuesday.
Conley injured his shin during minicamp on June 13 and had not practiced since then. Conley was limited at his first practice and has little time to get ready for the season opener on Sept. 10 at Tennessee.
The Raiders have a walkthrough scheduled for Wednesday and play their exhibition finale on Thursday against Seattle. The team won’t get back on the field until a walkthrough next Tuesday before having three days of practice before the game against the Titans.
Conley and coach Jack Del Rio were unavailable for comment Tuesday.
The Raiders took Conley 24th overall in April. They are counting on the former Ohio State cornerback to upgrade a secondary that allowed an NFL-worst 61 pass plays of at least 20 yards last year.
“I think he’s going to be really good. I do,” quarterback Derek Carr said Tuesday. “Obviously he’s going to take his rookie bumps. We don’t want too many. He’s going to be a very good football player. I truly believe it.”
The Raiders need Conley on the field as soon as possible. Sean Smith came into camp as a projected starter at cornerback but struggled early in preseason and was relegated to the second team for part of camp.
TJ Carrie got a chance at the starting role in place of Smith and also has had issues but Del Rio said earlier this week he is pleased with the progress from his defense.
“I feel really good about the work we put in,” Del Rio said. “I think structure-wise and system-wise and technique and fundamental-wise ... there’s been a lot of bright spots for us. I know people want to look at numbers and specific things. For us, we’re looking at the development, the different packages and personnel and how we utilize them during the year. I feel like we’ve made significant progress over the last several months.”
NOTES: CB David Amerson, who was knocked out by a concussion on Saturday in Dallas, has been cleared for physical activity but is not ready to practice. ... Second-round S Obi Melifonwu did not practice after playing 22 plays on defense in his exhibition debut in Dallas.
... LB Cory James remained sidelined after missing the most recent exhibition game. ... WR Seth Roberts was back on the field after missing the past two games with an illness.
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