ALAMEDA (AP) — Oakland Raiders safety Nate Allen thought his year might be over after he suffered a serious knee injury in the team’s season opener.
More than six weeks later, Allen is back to full strength and getting closer to being cleared to play again.
Allen took part in his first full practice Wednesday and ran without restrictions during individual position drills and in the full-squad scrimmage.
The veteran defensive back also made several sharp cuts and showed no lingering effects from the injury that sidelined him for nearly two months.
“He’s a good player and it’s great to see him back out working his way back from his injury,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “We get a chance to now get him activated and go from working just with the trainers to working with the team and getting his timing back and all that. It’s good for us.”
Allen tore the MCL in his right knee during a Week 1 loss to Cincinnati. He was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return then spent the next six weeks working his way back after doctors determined the injury didn’t require surgery.
“That was a big relief because at first I thought I might have to,” Allen said. “But after the MRI and everything, I found out I didn’t need it. That was a positive.”
While Allen — who signed with Oakland in the offseason after spending his first years with the Eagles — is cleared to practice, he won’t be eligible to play until the Raiders face the Vikings on Nov. 15.
Oakland has three weeks to decide whether to add Allen to the 53-man roster or keep him on injured reserve.
“I’m biting at the bit for sure,” Allen said before rejoining his teammates in practice for the first time since Sept. 11. “I’ll be ready to go. I’m just glad to be out there practicing now. I’m feeling good. Just gotta be patient.”
Considering the situation in the defensive secondary, it’s almost a given that Allen will be activated.
The Raiders own the worst-ranked pass defense in the NFL while giving up more than 303 yards a game through the air. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown for 335 yards or more three times against Oakland and are completing nearly 66 percent of their pass attempts
Oakland has seven interceptions in six games this season, all but one of which have come by defensive backs. A year ago, the Raiders had just nine interceptions, eight from the cornerbacks and safeties.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. also made the decision to move cornerback TJ Carrie to safety shortly after Allen was injured. Carrie has started the past four games at safety and is second on the team with five passes defended.
“That’s a new sight for him being back there at safety,” Allen said. “He’s doing a great job. I’ve just been giving him tips here and there on things, things for his eyes and things he’s seeing.”
Del Rio wouldn’t say whether Carrie — who also doubles as Oakland’s punt returner — would switch back to cornerback if and when Allen is cleared to play.
“The biggest thing it will do is add a good player to the equation,” Del Rio said. “We’ll work at it and let him work his way back and see where he is. How the roles will end up being defined, I would say it’s fluid.”
Notes: Safety Charles Woodson joined the team for stretching and position drills but did not participate in any team drills. . LB Neiron Ball (knee) was not at practice.