Raiders Broncos Football

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) in the first second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said two key players could be close to returning to action.

Backup quarterback Marcus Mariota will return to practice this week and is eligible to come off the injured list after injuring his quadriceps muscle. Gruden said they would see how the quad reacts in practice before deciding whether to activate him in time for Sunday's game at Denver. 

Guard Rich Incognito still has not played a snap this season but Gruden said his calf injury is improving and the team is hoping for his return after the bye week, which would be the game at the New York Giants on Nov. 7. Gruden says Incognito's return will be impactful to a young offensive line.

"He’s not only a great player, he’s a great leader and great communicator," Gruden said. "He’s seen stunts and twists. A lot of these guys are getting their baptism in the National Football League. Alex Leatherwood got a real baptism yesterday on short notice. So it’s going to be painful at times. We’ve got to play better, we will play better. But Richie is one of the premiere guards in football. Not only that, he was a guy selected captain. Our guys look up to him. He brings a sense of grit and toughness that every team likes."

The Raiders run game has struggled with a patchwork offensive line and that has led to slow starts offensively.

"Right now we’re finding our identity," Gruden said. "We haven’t found it yet. We’ve had some spurts where we’ve been pretty good running the ball and we’ve had some instances where we haven’t. It’s been inconsistent."  

The Raiders will look to move to 4-2 on the season when they travel to Denver to take on the Broncos on Sunday.

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