By Ryan Leong
One of the keys to that 15-0 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday was the strong running game provided by Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson. Usually, it’s up to the offensive line to provide protection for those running backs. Head coach Dennis Allen admitted having his starting five back on the field has been instrumental to the improving run game.
“I think it’s a big deal,” Allen said. “Obviously having the continuity of your offensive line that’s where it all starts. You’ve got to be able to block in the running game and you have to be able to protect in pass protection. Those are the guys that are doing it for you so to have those guys, the same five guys, working together for multiple weeks in a row, they get a feel for where everybody is at and they get a better understanding of just exactly how each other is going to work together. I think that’s a big deal and it’s been nice to have at least the guys that we anticipated being the starting five at the beginning of the year, it’s nice to have them working back together.”
This week, the Raiders get ready to face the Carolina Panthers. It’s not often that Oakland plays a team in the NFC South and Mike Goodson is eager to play against his former team.
”It’s a pretty big deal,” Goodson said. ”That’s my old team and where I used to be for so long. They know me and know of me. I want to beat them just as bad as I want to beat anybody else.”
Goodson spent the first three seasons of his NFL career with Carolina before he was traded to Oakland in the offseason for guard Bruce Campbell last March.
Someone who knows about wanting to beat his former team is quarterback Carson Palmer, who faced the Cincinnati Bengals last month. Palmer was the first overall pick by Cincinnati in the 2003 draft and traded to Oakland last season.
“He hasn’t talked a whole lot about it, but you can tell,” Palmer said. “Anytime you get a chance to play a place that you’ve been, guys get more excited for those games. We know Goody is getting excited to go back there, he spent a lot of time there, so especially for him, we want to go there and play well.”
As he was with Carolina, Goodson has been the backup running back for Oakland. This year, he has averaged 6.7 yards per carry on only 30 rush attempts. By comparison, starting running back Darren McFadden is averaging only 3.7 yards per carry. Sunday, Goodson ran for 89 yards on just 13 carries. It was his best performance since his career-best 120 yards against Baltimore on Nov. 21, 2010 while with the Panthers.
The game plan this week is similar to the one when they played the Chiefs. The team is intent on winning the game while also auditioning the younger players to see what they can offer.
Concussions are a big concern regarding the health of NFL players, given their regularity with a game as physical as football. The Raiders have had several players miss games because of the strict guidelines instituted this season. Cornerback Phillip Adams, who suffered his second concussion in three games, passed his protocol of tests and was limited in Wednesday’s practice.
“Yes, he’s been cleared and our medical personnel. They’ve done everything that we need to do to make sure that he’s fine,” Coach Dennis Allen said. “Obviously, we’re going to still continue to monitor him as he goes throughout the week, but he’s been cleared medically to play.”
Meanwhile, after his stellar performance in making 5-of-6 field goals (including a 57-yarder) and scoring all of the Raiders points in the win over the Chiefs, kicker Sebastian Janikowski was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
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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.