Banged Up Raiders Need Backups To Shine; Steelers Still Missing Key Players
By Ryan Leong
The Raiders have a tough opponent in the Pittsburgh Steelers and the injuries keep piling up for a team that has yet to find its first win.
Raider Nation and the rabid fans in the black hole may provide some held as the Steelers travel to Oakland. More good news, three big playmakers for the Steelers are out for Sunday’s game.
T Khalif Barnes (groin), CB Shawntae Spencer (foot)
TE David Ausberry (shoulder), CB Coye Francies (concussion), RB Mike Goodson (hamstring), K Sebastian Janikowski (left groin), RB Taiwan Jones (ribs), LB Rolando McClain (concussion, ankle), C Alex Parsons (shoulder), DT Richard Seymour (knee)
WR Juron Criner (ankle)
Without cornerback Shawntae Spencer who has a sprained right ankle, the Raiders have to scramble for more backups. They’d been using Pat Lee and Joselio Hanson. Both have been inadequate forcing Coach Dennis Allen to sign Brandian Ross from Green Bay and trying out Michael Huff at corner, moving him from safety. Other than that, the team has been tight lipped about how much practice Huff has had at cornerback and Huff himself hasn’t spoken much to reporters either. The team will use Matt Giordano at safety.
The Raiders probably miss DeMarcus Van Dyke but the team waived him earlier this month, but will see him again on Sunday as the Steelers have picked him up. Van Dyke was clocked having the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2011 combine. Like a lot of Raiders who get waived or released, he could get some revenge by exploiting their weaknesses.
Taking on one of the elite quarterbacks in Ben Roethisberger, he could feast on the Raiders weak secondary, especially with receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown who are two of the fastest wide outs in the league.
Rolando McClain is also still listed as questionable as he attempts to pass a series of post-concussion tests to make sure he is 100 percent to return to the lineup.
Khalif Barnes was ruled out early this week. The Raiders vetern tackle has been replaced by second year player Willie Smith who played in three games for the Redskins in 2011.
Backup running back Mike Goodson, responsible for scoring the Raiders lone touchdown last week at Miami, was listed as healthy all week but tweaked his hamstring in practice on Thursday and was a spectator on Friday.
LB James Harrison (knee), RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee), S Troy Polamalu (calf), LB Stevenson Sylvester (knee)
T Mike Adams (back)
RB Jonathan Dwyer (toe), T Marcus Gilbert (groin), QB Byron Leftwich (illness), TE Heath Miller (abdomen), WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee), WR Mike Wallace (groin)
Harrison has yet to appear for the Steelers in any game this season as he is recovering from off-season knee surgery. Although three of the four players listed as out on this list are key playmakers, the Steelers have plenty of depth.
The Raiders score the second fewest points in the league averaging 13.5 through two games. Last week, the Pittsburgh defense limited the Jets to only 219 yards and 10 points without their Pro Bowl stars.
Mendenall is almost ready to return to the playing field after recovering from a torn ACL on January 1. The Steelers have a bye week after the Oakland game.
Pittsburgh should have TE Heath Miller available. Miller has sore rib cartilage but expects to play on Sunday. He is tied for the team lead with two touchdowns.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.