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Jack Del Rio: Raiders 'optimistic' about Mario Edwards

When Mario Edwards was placed on season-ending injured reserve last December, the Oakland Raiders were concerned that the neck injury might place the promising rookie defensive end's career in jeopardy.

The freak injury occurred when Edwards twisted his neck while shedding a block on an Eddie Lacy run in Week 15.

"Whatever happened in that game triggered something," general manager Reggie McKenzie explained at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. "We're at the mercy of the medical people because it's a question mark. If it was clear, they would have said, 'Oh, he's done,' or 'He'll be ready to go.' It's something that is going to take time so they can figure it out."

While there's still no definitive word on Edwards' status, signs are positive.

"He's doing great, and it's all about giving him time," McKenzie told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group two weeks ago. "We're in no hurry."

In a recent appearance with SiriusXM NFL Radio, coach Jack Del Rio said the team is "optimistic" that Edwards will play in 2016.

"We hope so," Del Rio said. "We love Mario. Great young man, really had a nice year for us last year. He feels good and that will be determined at some point this offseason, but we remain optimistic."

McKenzie indicated that Edwards will check in with his own doctor as well as team physicians next month to determine plans for the offseason.

Oakland's second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Edwards was just hitting his stride as an upgrade on Justin Tuck when the injury struck. He and Khalil Mack had emerged as one of the NFL's most productive pass-rushing duos from mid-November to mid-December, combining for 10 sacks and 25 hurries in a four-game span.

If Edwards does return for the 2016 season, NFL Media analyst Gil Brandt believes the former Florida State star offers Pro Bowl potential. It's a sentiment Edwards shares:

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