Raiders won’t be at their best for biggest game in years

Both Zach Miller and Nnamdi Asomugha could miss the game this Sunday. (Photo's by Kelly Thomas)

As Raider luck would have it, the Raiders are about to face the Kansas City Chiefs in not only the biggest game of this season, but the biggest game in nearly a decade — and there’s a good possibility that they’ll do it without their two best players of recent years.

Tom Cable told the media Friday that Zach Miller (foot) and Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle) are both doubtful for Sunday’s action. In past years this bit of bad luck would spell doom for the Silver and Black, but Cable doesn’t believe it will have a big affect on the game.

He may be right. At the corner position, Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt have shown that they can perform at a high enough level to never be compared negatively to DeAngelo Hall…right?

Asked how the loss of Asomugha might affect the defense, Cable responded, “It doesn’t.” Then he went on to explain, “With Chris [Johnson] back, he and Stanford [Routt] and Jeremy [Ware]. So we’re fine. It doesn’t change anything.

Starting free safety Michael Huff reiterated the same feeling earlier in the day. “It’s like [Asomugha has] been iron man. He’s been in every game, but obviously if he doesn’t play other corners got to step up.

While Ware fared well against the Seattle Seahawks a week ago, Cable also said that fellow rookie Walter McFadden will be active for the first time this season. You may recall that during the preseason, McFadden performed well until suffering from a hamstring injury at the end of camp which then sidelined him for the better part of six weeks. Arguably, McFadden even outperformed Ware in the preseason.

While Routt and Johnson isn’t better than Asomugha and either of them, they should fill in and perform well enough against the worst-ranked passing offense in the NFL.

The biggest worry for the Raiders on the injury front will be the loss of Miller. With only two tight ends on the roster, not including offensive lineman Khalif Barnes, the Raiders can not afford any more trouble at the position. Brandon Myers will step in and fill the role vacated by Miller on Sunday — that is if Miller isn’t able to play.

Myers may be a pleasant surprise. In many ways, the second-year pro looks an awful lot like Miller when he’s on the field, although it’s a practice field. Cable was asked if he was confident with Myers in the passing game and he answered, “Yeah. Absolutely.

Myers is ready to fill the void when called upon. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now, so I’m ready,” said the backup tight end. He also has no delusions that he’ll be treated the same as Miller. Asked if he thought he’d also be double-teamed, Myers responded, “Obviously not, no.

Since he won’t get the same respect as the guy he’ll be covering for, Myers hopes that will give him the golden opportunity to open some eyes on Sunday. Actually, he’s just excited to get the opportunity for meaningful time on the field. “Whatever way the coaches are going to use me. I’m just excited for the opportunity. It’s going to be sold out, playing against the division, so, excited.

Miller’s injury was thought to be nothing more than a speed bump for the week, but Cable said that his star tight end hasn’t made the progress they had hoped at the beginning of the week. “He has [made progress], it’s just not great progress,” said Cable of Miller’s recuperation. “It started to get better and then it just kind of has mellowed out here the last couple days and not much improvement.

Notes

  • The game will be televised locally. The Raiders were successful in selling out the Coliseum prior to the 24-hour extended deadline.
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey (shoulder), Samson Satele (knee), and Bruce Gradkowski (shoulder) were all limited in practice, but they are also listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Cable said that whether or not Gradkowski is the second or third quarterback would be a game-time decision.
  • Hiram Eugene (pec) practiced some on Friday, but he’ll be listed as questionable on game day.
  • Louis Murphy (lung), Chaz Schilens (knee), and John Henderson (foot) did not practice and have been ruled out for this week’s action.
  • Had to cover a story at Cal and wasn’t able to make it to Raiders HQ today. Thanks goes out to Jerry McDonald (Bay Area News Group), Eric Gilmore (CBS Sports), and Paul Gutierrez (Comcast) for relaying the information to me.
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