The Raiders were banking on Neiron Ball's return to mount a second-half playoff run.

Those playoff chances are over -- and Ball's season could soon follow. The fifth-round rookie linebacker suffered a knee injury that could take some time to heal, according to Silver & Black Pride.

"I think it will be tough for him to make it back," Del Rio told reporters. "We keep trying. We'll see where it goes, but we've got a month left, we were hopeful we'd have him back by now and it doesn't look like that's gonna be the case."

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It sounds like Ball's future landing spot is on injured reserve. And that's not necessarily a bad thing; the team values his development, but not at the risk of his long-term availability.

Ball and fellow rookie Ben Heeney should return next season to give the Raiders some linebacking pop. He currently has nine tackles and a sack.

(h/t Silver & Black Pride)