Linebacker Cory Littleton (42) went on the COVID-19 reserve list and won’t play Sunday against Denver.
Linebacker Cory Littleton missed practice Thursday and was placed on the COVID-19 reserve, meaning he he’ll likely miss the Raiders’ Week 10 home game against the Denver Broncos.
Players placed on the COVID-19 list either tested positive for the coronavirus or were in “close contact” with someone who is infected. In theory, if Littleton has been in contact with someone with the virus, he could be available Sunday with continuous testing.
If Littleton tested positive, he’s out for at least 10 days even without symptoms. The Raiders are in the process of revising defensive plays to play without him.
Littleton, 27, has struggled in his first season with the Raiders after signing a three-year contract worth a maximum of $36 million. But he is the team’s leading tackler with 48 (31 solo, 17 assisted) through eight games and has played all 527 snaps on defense.
With Littleton out, the Raiders get additional snaps from Nicholas Morrow and Kyle Wilber to go along with starting middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. The other linebacker on the roster, Raekwon McMillan, is primarily an inside player and had just one snap against the Chargers.
Linebackers currently on the practice squad include Javin White and James Onwalu.
Littleton’s absence comes just as his play was beginning to improve, while still falling short of being the lockdown pass defender which he was purported to be when he signed as a free agent.
“I think each and every week he’s gotten better just understanding the game plan, the details,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said.
Littleton is the 10th current Raiders player to be on the COVID-19 reserve list since training camp began, joining Devontae Booker, Maxx Crosby, Maurice Hurst, Damon Arnette, Trent Brown, Kolton Miller, Rodney Hudson, Denzelle Good and Johnathan Abram.
Miller, Hudson, Good and Abram were all in the list because of being in close contact with Brown, who contracted the virus and has gone on the list a second time because of complications from the effects of the illness.
— Cornerback Trayvon Mullen (hamstring) returned to practice and was limited after being out Wednesday. Arnette practiced for the second straight day but there was no indication whether he’ll play in either a starting or reserve role against Denver after being out since Week 3 following thumb surgery.
— Players who missed practice were Miller and Hurst. If Miller were to miss a second straight game, Brandon Parker would get a second straight start at left tackle. Parker played well in a win over the Chargers.