Oakland Raiders inside linebacker, Travis Goethel, left at the beginning of practice yesterday with trainers by his side. Head Coach Hue Jackson told Bay Area media at his post practice press conference today that Goethel tore a ligament in his knee and will need surgery. His sophomore season is officially over. This news was reported by our own Levi Damien, who is currently in Napa, California, at the Raider training camp facilities.
“Yesterday, Travis… hurt his knee,” said a distraught Hue Jackson. “He tore something in there that’s I think is not going to be really good. He’s going to end up having to have surgery and it’s unfortunate but it’s part of this game. It’s two years in a row for him in a tough situation but we support him and we’ll do anything for him. It’s just one of those freak things, you know? Nobody touched him or anything like that. It’s just, these things happen. And as a coach it’s just sickening because you watch a guy work so hard to prepare himself and then all of the sudden something like this happens just out of the blue. It’s just unfortunate… There is a good chance he’ll be out the whole year. Obviously there’s still things that need to be evaluated but it doesn’t, at this point, sound very promising.”
Starting inside linebacker, Rolando McClain, did not practice today, and according to Coach Jackson he was just taking the day off to rest — understandable since he is one of the hardest working guys on the team, not only on the field but in the film room as well. In his and Goethel’s absence, reserve strong side linebacker Sam Williams ran the first team defense at middle linebacker and free agent acquisition Darryl Blackstock– normally the reserve weak side linebacker – ran the Mike for the second team.
Despite his long tenure with the Raiders, Williams is not a suitable back-up for captain of the defense. Throughout his career, Williams has made his mark on special teams and if the team can help it, they try to avoid having him on the field with the defense. It remains to be seen what Blackstock can do in the middle of the field, but his primary role was backing up Quentin Groves thus far this preseason.
Goethel also missed the first half of the 2010 season after having an undisclosed surgery on his back. Nearing the end of preseason last year, Goethel was in competition to be the team’s weak side linebacker. Due to injury, Quentin Groves was given the position by default.
In 2011, Goethel was the primary back-up to Rolando McClain and by all accounts did an admirable job. Not only that, but he was also making a case to be the starting weak side linebacker for the Raiders this year. Now that his year has ended prematurely, the Raiders will need to sign somebody else to come in and fill the role that Goethel was expected to fill for the team.
Once again, the Raiders will seriously explore the possibility of acquiring Lofa Tatupu. Tatupu was brought in for a visit earlier this off season but was never signed to a contract. He is an attractive option because he already has starting NFL middle linebacker experience in a 4-3 defense with the Seattle Seahawks and was very effective in that role for quite some time.
Another option that remains dangling out there is Kirk Morrison. Not only does Morrison have experience as a starting middle linebacker, he did it with the Raiders and is still highly regarded by some of the players on the team.
Whatever happens, there is little doubt the Raiders need help at this position. Despite the fact that he is not a starter, losing Goethel is a blow to this team as they near the first week of regular season action.
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