There has been plenty of speculation regarding the status of rookie wide receiver Hunter Renfrow heading into the final stretch of the 2019 NFL season.
Renfrow suffered a broken rib and punctured lung during the embarrassing 34-3 loss to the New York Jets in Week 12. Despite the initial concern about the severity of the injury, Oakland ultimately opted not to place him on injured reserve before ruling him out of last week’s pivotal showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The decision not to place Renfrow on IR indicates that they are optimistic he will be able to return at some point over these next four games. Unfortunately, it remains to be seen just exactly when that will be.
Gruden is very hopeful that Hunter Renfrow (ribs) could be back for “the last game or two.” #Raiders
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) December 4, 2019
The update on Renfrow is hardly an encouraging sign considering the lack of uncertainty in Gruden’s comments. This means it is safe to assume that the receiving corps will be shorthanded for at least the next two weeks in their matchups against the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Renfrow’s season got off to a slow start after being taken in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The rookie had largely struggled to etch out a consistent role for himself in the passing game and went unnoticed by quarterback Derek Carr because of it.
Fortunately, he was finally able to find his footing and emerge as a bit of a safety net for Carr underneath thanks to a couple of breakout performances. The 23-year-old registered 36 receptions for 396 yards and two touchdowns before suffering a setback with the injury.
Although Oakland has not officially been eliminated from playoff contention just yet, their recent two-game skid has put them in a position where it is highly unlikely that they will be taking part in the postseason. As a result, they may have yet another important decision to make regarding Renfrow’s return.
If the Raiders are knocked out of the playoffs in the coming weeks, there will be little reason for them to have Renfrow risk further injury by playing in a couple of meaningless games to end the season. They may be better off just getting an early start on his full recovery than have him potentially go into the offseason with a lingering rib issue.