Whoever it was that said you can’t lose your job to injury never played professional football. In a bottom line business there is no room for common courtesy. With every injury that occurs there is an opportunity that arises for another man to make an impression.
After buying as much time as possible for his walking wounded, the clock finally stuck midnight for Hue Jackson on Thursday. The NFL season is here and with it the first official injury reports came pouring in.
While we still don’t know too much more than we did during camp it is very clear that Louis Murphy’s nagging groin is going to keep him out of action beyond what was initially anticipated. But we should have expected that. The real hope is that this isn’t a Chaz Schilens type of deal where two weeks becomes two months.
For Murphy the larger concern is being lost in the shuffle of Oakland’s young receivers.
Darrius Heyward-Bey was always going to get the nod over any other Raider but he’s actually starting to look like an NFL receiver. Jacoby Ford figures to feature prominently in the offense. Schilens has been back in practice all week and if he’s right he’ll be a lock to emerge as the Raiders most consistent receiver. Then there’s the real wild card of the bunch – rookie Denarius Moore. If Moore’s preseason play can carry over to the regular season then all bets are off that Murphy would be able to find much of a defined role at all in the coming weeks. Lastly is the made man of the group, veteran Derek Hagan. If you’re looking for a longshot with a true chance to emerge then put your chips on the former Sun Devil.
Aside from his injury, Murphy has struggled with his consistency. He makes the most impossible catches look simple yet makes the most simple of catches look incredibly impossible. Without a proper offseason and no real camp conditioning, Murphy is really on the outside looking in.
About the only thing that could work in Murphy’s favor once he’s back is – you guessed it – an injury to occur that might open up an opportunity.
As unsettling as that scenario is for Louis it is a welcome headache for Oakland. This team desperately needs a receiver to breakout and become a reliable target. With all of the competition not a single pass catcher can afford to get complacent. Perhaps not even DHB who has surely got to me running out of time to impress Al Davis.
Mr. Davis still subscribes to the scholarship program but he’s shown in recent years that those free rides aren’t guaranteed for life.
Murphy’s rookie season showed plenty of promise but his progression hasn’t yet matched his potential. This is a crucial year for all of Oakland’s young receivers. At stake are more than just snaps. Jobs are on the line going forward. Just where Murphy will be employed in 2012 depends a lot on 2011.