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Raiders not using COVID situation as excuse heading into Tampa Bay game

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Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders snaps the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the fourth quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

At the start of training camp for the 2020 season, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said the following.

"We want to crush this virus, we want to beat it into the ground, I want to dominate when we leave the building.."

Unfortunately, the virus has crushed the Raiders' offensive line as the team prepares to host Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon. Earlier this week, tackle Trent Brown was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Shortly after, the Silver and Black's four other starting offensive lineman, left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Denzelle Good, center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson, were sent home.

"I guess they were around Trent," Gruden said this week. "I can’t get into things any more than that. Hopefully we’ll get some players back tomorrow or for Sunday."

Safety Johnathan Abram and cornerback Damon Arnette are also on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but just because they are all on the list doesn't necessarily mean they are out for Sunday's game.

"How happy am I? I’m not happy," said Gruden, who had a bout with COVID-19 during the offseason. "I’m concerned. I’m really more concerned about Trent. His health more than anything. This is COVID, and I am concerned about anybody that has it or is near it.”

Despite the team battling COVID, quarterback Derek Carr made the "next man up" mentality very clear.

"The beautiful thing about football and football players, we’ve been taught, really brain washed since we were kids that if someone goes down, it’s next man up," Carr said. "You go to practice, you lose a starter, you lose this guy, you lose that guy and you just play. It’s a weird thing because it doesn’t seem normal to rationally think that way. But we come out here to practice, and I have a center that has started games, and I’ve played with. I have a left guard I’ve played with. I have a right guard I’ve played with. I have a left tackle I’ve played with. Yeah, they’re not the starters, but I’ve played with them.

"So, when something happens like that, it’s not as big a shock to us in the building as it would be for someone just hearing, ‘Oh, snap, what happened?’ Do we miss those guys? Absolutely. I’m human. But when you come out to practice, when you go to take that snap, I’m thinking about 100 different things. Not just that, I’m trying to execute my assignment. Then you turn the film on and say, ‘OK, what went down.’"

As Carr and his team prepares to welcome Tom Brady and a strong Buccaneers defense, the quarterback noted experience is big in a game like this. Coming off a bye week, the Silver and Black will need to focus on what is within their control, which at this moment doesn't include whether the offensive linemen will be available for Sunday's game after beating Kansas City in their last outing.

"One of the best in the NFL," Carr said of Tampa Bay's defense. "We saw what they’ve done through the season. We saw what they did last week to a really good offense and so you watch the film. To me, I don’t look at the numbers. I just watch the film, I see what I see, and I test everything by what I’ve seen in my past. I’m just going to go out there and try to execute exactly what coach asked me to do. You try your best, but what a challenge it is. Just like two weeks ago against Kansas City, what a challenge it is that we hadn’t had success there, they have a really good defense, they make some really good players, they’re able to shut out certain things in certain offenses, and same thing going into this one. It’s a great challenge for us. It’s going to take great, great mental focus in this game."

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