One of the biggest issues going forward for the Oakland Raiders is the murderer’s row of teams they’ll face in the second quarter of the season.
It will be anything but an easy task of finishing up the first half of the season with a .500 record. At 1-3, that would mean that they would have to beat three teams from the following group: (4-0) New York Giants on the road, (2-1) Philadelphia Eagles at home, (3-1) New York Jets at home, and the (2-2) San Diego Chargers in San Diego.
The players know how difficult this next quarter will be, but they aren’t backing down from the challenge facing them. “We still have a lot of games to play. We have a big challenge ahead of us, so we’re looking forward to the challenge,” said linebacker Thomas Howard before practice on Wednesday.
It’s a good thing they’re looking forward to challenges, because they will get nothing less in the coming weeks. Asked if being an underdog motivated him, defensive lineman Gerard Warren said, “I’m motivated every Sunday.” As reporters stood around him waiting on his every word, he finished his thought, “I walk in feeling like the underdog regardless of what our record is or where we stand at. Just motivation to go out and be successful and succeed come Sunday.”
That should be good news to Howard who said, “whenever [Kelly and Warren] play like [they did in Houston], our defense is going to play good no matter what nobody else does.”
The biggest problem the Raiders will face on defense is Eli Manning, who didn’t practice Wednesday due to a plantar fasciitis injury in his right foot. If Manning can’t go, then former Houston Texan David Carr would play in his place. Asked if the Giants could do that without much drop off in production, Cable replied, “I think so.”
Cable explained that in the Giants’ system, they get plenty of production from the other ten guys on the field so when they have to plug another guy in, they still are productive. Most likely, Cable and the rest of the Raiders hope that isn’t the case in the event that Carr is the starter.
Another problem for the defense is the one-two punch of the Giants’ running game. Thunder (Brandon Jacobs) and Lightening (Ahmad Bradshaw), present a potent attack that the Raiders have to focus on first. Surprisingly, Tommy Kelly and Gerard Warren aren’t so concerned about Jacobs.
One of the reporters mentioned to Kelly the unique aspect of a 270-pound running back and how you don’t see that every day. Kelly responded with, “No you don’t get to see 270-pound backs running that fast, but I mean he’s human so if you hit him around his beak a couple of times, he’ll slow down.”
Later, the same reporter mentioned Kelly’s comments to Warren, stating that Jacobs is still a load to tackle. Warren said, “Yeah, he is a load, but like he says, you rap him around the beak a time or two and I think he’ll fold up.”
With the way the offense is playing and the fact that they’ll be going up against the Giants’ defense, Warren and Kelly had better be right or else it’s going to be a long day at the Meadowlands.
- Nick Miller didn’t practice and is listed as out for the Giants game. Cable said he looks good, but it’s going to be another two or three weeks–making it a ‘long’ eight weeks of being out.
- Chaz Schilens is listed as doubtful and also didn’t practice. Cable said that he’s still feeling pain when he tries to make cuts.
- Darren McFadden is obviously out with his knee injury. According to Cable, his surgery went well and he was already rehabbing Wednesday. Right now, the only people who know which knee was operated on are the trainers, the doctors, and McFadden himself–Cable wasn’t sure, which gave everyone a good laugh.
- Oren O’Neal didn’t practice on Wednesday due to a sprained ankle he received during the Texans game. He’s listed as day to day.
- Both Robert Gallery and Cornell Green didn’t practice and will be out for the Giants game.
- Zach Miller is day to day with his concussion. He didn’t practice either, but that was the plan according to Cable. He’ll be rechecked on Thursday and he’ll have to go through a battery of tests before being cleared to play.
- Tyvon Branch was limited in practice with a sore hip. No word yet on if that will prevent him from playing on Sunday.
- Justin Miller’s return to the Raiders was short lived. He was released in order to make room for the re-signing of running back Gary Russell. Russell says he can return kicks if necessary, but Cable said that Jonathan Holland will return kickoffs and Johnnie Lee Higgins will return punts.
- Cable refused to name a starting running back for Sunday saying, “No, really, both of ‘em. Really, to me they’re the same guys. All three of those guys are the same in many aspects.” It will depend on the first play of the game as to which runner will start, but Cable intends to have both Bush and Fargas get nearly the same amount of work.
- Langston Walker had a tryout with the Raiders on Tuesday, but wasn’t signed. Cable hasn’t ruled out bringing the former Raider back in the fold, but did say that he’d have to get into shape before they would consider it.
- Erik Pears will get the start at right tackle, with Chris Morris moving over to left guard and Samson Satele coming off the bench to fill in at center. Mario Henderson and Cooper Carlisle will be the only starters playing at their starting spots on Sunday.