If the Raiders are going to beat the Chargers on Thursday while remaining in the thick of the AFC playoff picture, they'll have to do it without one of their top offensive contributors. On Tuesday, the team placed rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III on their reserve/COVID-19 list. Ruggs will miss the Raiders' upcoming game against Los Angeles.
The No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 draft, the 5-foot-11, 188-pound Ruggs has caught 23 passes for 418 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. Ruggs caught three passes in each of the Raiders' last three games that included his 46-yard, game-winning touchdown reception in Las Vegas' Week 13 win over the Jets. Ruggs was less productive this past Sunday, however, as he totaled just 18 yards on three catches in the Raiders' 44-27 loss to the Colts that dropped Las Vegas to 7-6 and on the outside of the AFC playoff picture.
Ruggs' absence on Thursday should lead to more opportunities for fellow rookie receiver Bryan Edwards. The 81st overall pick in this year's draft, the 6-foot-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, who is third on the team 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 battled injuries for most of the season. Jacobs, who rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries during the Raiders' Week 9 win over the Chargers, has posted just two 100-yard rushing performances this season after having five such games as a rookie.
The Raiders are hoping to bounce back after losing three of their past four games following Sunday's defeat against 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 a Chargers offense that is led by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, and running back Austin Ekeler.