An offensive line that has been playing mix and match all season at two positions will end that way Sunday against the Denver Broncos with rookie John Simpson starting at left guard in what amounts to an audition for a starting role in 2021.
The Raiders downgraded Denzelle Good from questionable to out Saturday with an ankle injury. Neither Brown nor right tackle Trent Brown will suit up for the regular-season finale in Denver. Sam Young will start at right tackle, with Brandon Parker the backup on both sides.
Designated as inactive Sunday, Good was joined by Brown, cornerback Amik Robertson, cornerback Isaiah Johnson, safety Erik Harris, defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and quarterback Nathan Peterman.
Good performed admirably throughout 2020 in what was supposed to be a backup role and instead saw him play in 15 games with 14 starts and was the recipient of some campaigning for a new contract in free agency from right guard Gabe Jackson.
Jackson, center Rodney Hudson and left tackle Kolton Miller have started every game for the Raiders. Richie Incognito, the left guard, was lost in the second game of the season with an Achillies’ tear and eventually went on injured reserve. Brown made it three plays into the opener with a calf injury, didn’t return until Week 5 against Kansas City, and then was shut down after contracting the coronavirus and further sidelined with complications from COVID-19.
Simpson, a fourth-round pick from Clemson, played 69 snaps against New Orleans after Incognito was injured and then started the following week against New England. Once Good, who played as an emergency right tackle for Brown, was moved back to left guard, Simpson played sparingly until getting 34 snaps against Miami last week. Good left the game after being injured against the Dolphins.
Coach Jon Gruden addressed the possibility of Simpson starting the finale on Friday.
“This is a big evaluation for John, no doubt. It’s not going to make or break him, but we like Simpson. He got off the bench and played well against New Orleans. He’s played well in spurts for us. He’s had some great mentors. For him to walk around with Jason Witten and Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson and Denzelle Good, Incognito. He’s had a real, I think, great experience and I think it’s fast tracked him. Hopefully you see a better version of Simpson on Sunday than you saw early, but we like him a lot. ”
– Safety Jeff Heath, who missed the last three games following a concussion in a goal line collision with Sam Darnold against the New York Jets, was activated and available. Harris, who missed Dolphins game while on the COVID-19 reserve list, was inactive.
– Practice squad promotions were offensive lineman Erik Magnusson and linebacker James Onwualu.
– Defensive end Arden Key was fined $ 6,572 for grabbing the facemask of Miami quarterback Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on the 34-yard completion to Mack Collins that set up the game-winning 44-yard field goal by the Dolphins last week.