By Ryan Leong
Nothing is worse than when you lose players to injuries in practice and that’s what happened on Wednesday to the Raiders. Starting defensive end Matt Shaughnessy suffered a shoulder injury, backup wide receiver Juron Criner sustained a hip injury and backup safety Mike Mitchell was struck with an ankle injury.
And for another week, the Raiders will be without Khalif Barnes. The starting right tackle has been out for a month with a groin injury. Cornerback Shawntae Spencer is also out with a lingering foot injury.
But progress was made as tight end Richard Gordon returned to practice after missing the past three games with a hamstring injury. Reserve running back Taiwan Jones, who missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury, also made his return to the practice fields.
Linebacker Aaron Curry practiced for the second week in a row but the team still has two weeks to determine if they’re going to take him off the physically unable to perform list.
Head coach Dennis Allen was asked this week about Carson Palmer’s prolific passing numbers. He’s on pace to throw for 4,600 yards and would join Rich Gannon as the only Raiders quarterback to reach that plateau. Through six games, Palmer has 1,732 yards passing, ranking him 11th in the NFL.
“I want to win, whatever it takes to win football games,” Allen said. “If it’s throwing it 50 times a game we’ll do that, if it’s running it 50 times a game we’ll do that. Whatever the game dictates for us to have a chance to win the football game, that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Raiders all season long have been one of the worst running teams in the league. They rank 31st in rushing and ninth in passing.
A big reason for this is the zone blocking scheme utilized by offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. The Raiders have rushed for 120 yards or fewer in five of their six games. Running back Darren McFadden hasn’t been his explosive self since that foot injury derailed him for half of the 2011 season.
“We want to run the football,” Palmer said. “That’s what we talk about, that’s what we work on, that’s what coach is always preaching. We want to run it better…and the better you run the football, those yards might go up and the pass attempts go down. I don’t have a crystal ball but the more you run the football the more defenses have to focus on it and that’s when you get your opportunities to really throw the ball down the field.”
One major difference is that Gannon led the Silver and Black to their last Super Bowl appearance in 2002 with a very good team. This Raiders team is just 2-4 by comparison.
It’s always a big deal with the Raiders play one of their bitter rivals, and this time it’s the Chiefs in Kansas City. Despite their lousy 1-5 record, it takes on more importance because it is a division game and Oakland needs every win it can get at this point.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Raiders news, see CBS Sports Sacramento.
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.