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Raiders defensive coordinator: Chiefs will be ‘daunting task’ with players sidelined

When they play the Chiefs on Sunday, the Raiders could have as many as ten defensive players on their reserve/COVID list.

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther pulled no punches: beating the Kansas City Chiefs in their season rematch on Sunday night will be a tall task.

“I don’t know how we can beat these guys with a full lineup at practice — let alone with three-quarters of your lineup not being here all week,” he admitted. “We’re playing the world champs. They’ve got a great quarterback, great receivers, a great tight end. The line’s physical, and they’re coming off a bye. So it’s a daunting task.”

All told, the Raiders have 10 defensive players in isolation after having tested positive for the novel coronavirus — or being in close contact with another infected person.

One of those infected persons could have been defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who went on the Raiders’ reserve/COVID list on Tuesday after testing positive for the virus. The second-year defender played a significant part in the Raiders 40-32 defeat of the Chiefs in Week 5, accumulating nine pressures against Kansas City’s offensive line — along with three tackles and a pass defensed. He will not play against the Chiefs. Linebacker Cory Littleton was placed on the reserve/COVID before Ferrel, but it is not known if he will be able to play.

Still, the Raiders have hope that as many as eight defenders — including strong safety Johnathan Abram, cornerbacks Lamarcus Joyner and Isaiah Johnson, defensive tackles Maliek Collin and Johnathan Hankins, defensive ends Arden Key and David Irving and lineman Kendal Vickers — could be cleared before Sunday’s kickoff. But even if some (or all) of them become available to play, they’ll have missed important preparation for a big divisional matchup.

That’s the kind of thing that can make even an NFL defensive coordinator run up the white flag. But Guenther pledged to go down fighting.

“I know one thing,” he told the press. “We’re going to go 100 percent. We’ll get these guys ready to play. Whoever’s out there at [7:20 p.m. Arrowhead Time] will be ready to go.”