LOS ANGELES – It wasn’t necessarily Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s plan for rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs to play the entire game against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night. But with Damon Arnette unauthorized and Keisean Nixon injured during the match, Gruden had no choice but to play Hobbs.
It also meant moving Hobbs from the cornerback position where he performed so well during training camp to the outside corner, a place where he took two shots last week in practice. And as soon as Hobbs lined up on the outside in the third quarter, the Rams threw a long shot at wide receiver Tutu Atwell on Hobbs’ side.
But as Hobbs continues to prove, he was up to the challenge. Reading the situation perfectly, he left his coverage area, where his man sat on a short route, and sprinted towards Atwell, who ran to the seam as he faced rookie security Tyree Gillespie.
“I think that was the type of defense we played; I don’t really think it was my game, ”said Hobbs after a 17-16 preseason win at SoFi Stadium. “I was just trying to be a football player.”
With the ball in the air, Hobbs cut past Gillespie towards Atwell while simultaneously following the ball. As he caught up with Atwell, he jumped over him to catch the ball, then clung to it as he crashed to the ground for an interception.
“I looked up, the ball was there, so I just grabbed it,” Hobbs said.
It was one of the few impact plays Hobbs made, including a great read on an onscreen pass to pitch the Rams for a 4-yard loss and knock quarterback Bryce Perkins out of the pocket. during a corner blitz. In the meantime, he played another regular game at the slot machine cornerback position, a position he appears to have firm control for the starting position.
In appreciation for the effort, Gruden did something he rarely does this time of year.
“I don’t usually give out match balls for preseason wins, but Nate Hobbs got one,” said Gruden. “Well-deserved.”
A stunned Hobbs was humiliated.
“It was crazy. I’m just a beginner,” he said. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”
The injuries are piling up
Raiders’ week in Southern California, which included two joint practices with the Rams, proved costly from a health standpoint. And that calls into question the regular-season status of linebackers Nicholas Morrow and Javin White.
Morrow injured his foot in Thursday’s practice, and White, an impressive second-year UNLV prospect, lost to a knee injury in Saturday’s game.
The Raiders expect to recover linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski this week, but Morrow and White’s injuries could put them on the sidelines for a long time.
“We’re light at linebacker right now,” said Gruden. “It’s a concern.”
Additionally, right guard Richie Incognito left Thursday training with calf strain, but Gruden said the team didn’t think the injury was serious and that he hopes he’s ready for the first one. match.
Mariota is still not ready
The Raiders wanted to play quarterback Marcus Mariota against the Rams, but he hasn’t fully recovered from a strained quad he suffered two weeks ago. He was available in an emergency, but Gruden wasn’t going to push him any further.
“We’re not calling any games for him right now with the limitation,” Gruden said. “The way he’s playing, we don’t want to take him out in a live situation and let him let go. He’s just not ready to go.