Raiders place Henry Ruggs III on COVID-19 reserve, knocking out recruit from Thursday night’s battle

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If the Raiders are to beat the Chargers on Thursday while staying on top of the AFC playoff topic, they’ll have to do so without one of their main offensive contributors. On Tuesday, the team placed rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III on their reserve / COVID-19 list. Ruggs will miss the Raiders’ next game against Los Angeles.

The No.12 pick in the 2020 Draft, the 5-foot-11, 188-pound Ruggs caught 23 passes for 418 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. Ruggs has caught three assists in each of the Raiders ‘last three games, including his winning 46-yard touchdown reception in Las Vegas’ Week 13 win over the Jets. Ruggs was less productive last Sunday, however, as he totaled just 18 yards on three catches in the Raiders’ 44-27 loss to the Colts that brought Las Vegas down to 7-6 and away from the AFC playoff photo.

Ruggs’ absence on Thursday should create more opportunities for rookie wide receiver Bryan Edwards. The 81st overall pick in this year’s draft, 6-3, 212-pound Edwards opened the year as a starter before an ankle injury sidelined him for a month. Edwards’ injury opened the door for veteran receiver Nelson Agholor, the team’s third in receptions (38), second in receiving yards (635) and tied for first in touchdown receptions (seven). Tight end Darren Waller leads the Raiders with 84 catches for 817 yards and seven touchdowns, while second-year receiver Hunter Renfrow is second on the team in receptions (47) and third in receiving yards (594 ).

Las Vegas will also need a solid effort from running back Josh Jacobs, who has been injured for most of the season. Jacobs, who racked up 65 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries in the Raiders’ Week 9 win over the Chargers, has posted just two 100-yard rushing performances this season after having five such games in as a recruit.

The Raiders are hoping to bounce back after losing three of their last four games following Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis. Thursday night’s game will be the first without former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who was relieved of his duties earlier this week. The Raiders’ defense, which will now be led by Rod Marinelli, will face an attack from the Chargers led by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and running back Austin Ekeler.

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