It is often tricky to gauge the motivations of management and the fan base when their team heads into the final game of the regular season with no postseason aspirations intact. Losing and improving draft placement is a preference for many, but those sentiments are not shared by the people competing for the love of the game and their future livelihood. That should be even more true for the Las Vegas Raiders (7-9).

Sunday's home matchup against the Denver Broncos (8-8) will be interim head coach Antonio Pierce's last chance to prove his value as a full-time leader before the organization heads into the offseason and decides what to do about the position. But there are two key injury updates that might prevent Pierce from making one more good impression on the field.

Running back Josh Jacobs and rookie tight end Michael Mayer did not practice for the Raiders on Thursday, per The Athletic's Tashan Reed. Their status for Week 18 will obviously depend heavily on Friday's participation level.

Will Josh Jacobs, Michael Mayer get chance to end 2023 on a high?

Both players have had trying campaigns, with offensive deficiencies, in addition to their respective injuries, halting what could have been productive individual seasons. Jacobs has struggled most of the season but started to show flashes of his 2022 All-Pro self after great showings versus the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs in November. He has missed the last three games with a quadriceps injury and currently has 805 rushing yards (3.5 per carry), and six touchdowns.

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Mayer, the No. 35 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, has not broken out as expected. He has just 27 receptions for 304 yards and two TDs. An unfavorable quarterback situation is at least partially to blame for those lackluster numbers, but he did give fans cause for optimism after scoring in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers. He has been sidelined with a toe injury since.

If Josh Jacobs and Michael Mayer are able to give it a go, expect the feisty Raiders to give the Broncos all they can handle. Actually, expect it regardless.