The Raiders have been banged up all season long. It probably seems like they haven't managed to field an entire starting unit. It would seem that way because it is true. But come Sunday, the Raiders will be fielding as close to the team they intended since the first game of the season.
This may not seem to be the case considering the fact that it looks like Darren McFadden will not be taking the field yet again. He has been out since week seven with a mid-foot sprain. In fact, he went out the same time Jason Campbell was lost for the season which means that Carson Palmer has yet to play a single snap with him.
But even without McFadden in the lineup, the Raiders will still be as healthy as they have been all season long. The key newly returning players are wide receiver Jacoby Ford, running back Taiwan Jones, and safety Michael Huff.
Ford has been out since week ten and Jones went down a week later. The two of them should prove quite valuable to the offense. Ford completes the receiving corps that just recently had tight end David Ausberry listed as a wide receiver due to the lack of healthy players. Ford himself has played in just seven games this season.
Taiwan Jones looked to be back last week against the Chiefs. He practiced all week and intended to play, but during pregame warm-ups he was deemed not ready and was made inactive for the game. He was supposed to be the change of pace back to replace Darren McFadden but unfortunately Jones was healthy for just three games before he joined McFadden on the injured list.
Huff has been healthy much of the season but has missed the last two games. He was replaced by Matt Giordano who has done quite well. However, the issue with Huff being unavailable is that Mike Mitchell and Jerome Boyd see more playing time. Both are a liability in pass coverage and opposing offenses feast upon the bountiful open space their receivers are able to run through. Best case scenario is for Huff and Giordano to both be available especially against Philip Rivers and the Charger offense.
With these players returning to the lineup, there are only two intended starters who will not be available—Darren McFadden and Matt Shaughnessy. Sure, if you want to get technical you could add Jason Campbell and Chris Johnson. But Campbell has been replaced by Carson Palmer and would not start even if he were healthy. Though Chris Johnson's absence is not injury related, he may not have been the starter either. Lito Sheppard has been the starter since he took over for Demarcus Van Dyke in week nine.
Next week will be a far cry from weeks seven and eight when at various points the Raiders were without their leading rusher, leading receiver, starting quarterback, starting fullback, starting corner, best defensive end, and starting middle linebacker. The result was a 28-0 loss to the Chiefs and a thrashing by Tim Tebow and the Broncos.
It is no coincidence, however, that the following week the Raiders pulled out a win with only their leading rusher and best defensive end out of the lineup. Those are the same two players who are not in the lineup now as the Raiders are set to face the same team they defeated in week ten—the Chargers.
In that game Michael Bush had 157 yards rushing and Taiwan Jones had seven carries of his own for 39 yards. Both averaged over five yards per carry. On the other side, the Chargers' top running back, Ryan Mathews, was held to just 34 yards on the ground with no rushing touchdowns.
The Raiders were without Huff in that game which contributed to allowing Rivers to throw for 274 yards and two touchdowns. Giordano had one of his four interceptions in that game. With he and Huff both available, Rivers' life will be made more difficult.
The only other player who will likely be unable to play Sunday is John Henderson who is suffering from a knee injury and missed last week as well. But even if he can't play, the Raiders' injury report goes from 16 players with 8 players at questionable or worse last week to just three players not practicing this week.
A great recipe for success is to start with all the ingredients.
Follow me on Twitter @LeviDamien or befriend me on facebook.
Just thinking out loud here, I'm curious if Taiwan Jones works out well, we can trade McFadden for some draft picks or a number one. Bush is more than capable of carrying the load with TJ being the change of pace back like Wheatley/Kaufman were. McFadden as we all know can't stay healthy for the whole season and we need more stability at the position. Bush will be a free agent at the end of the season so we can lock him up long term and look to shore up the O-line with the draft picks. I'm a huge McFadden fan so personally I would love to keep him but I'm wondering if he'll be on the field long enough to be beneficial to the team.
well to me, the first charger game was one of the bresnahans best to be honest. we sacked rivers 6 times i believe with wimbley getting 4. rivers had a couple hail mary t.d.'s he threw up cause our db's made bad plays on the ball, except giordano's pick in the end zone late on another of rivers hail mary throws. matthews is banged up and jackson might not play with a bad hammy. get up on them like we did and make rivers melt under the heat, like he did, like he always does.
A healthy Raider team spells serious disaster for San Diego...The Raiders are going to crush the Chargers and make the playoffs. Oakland will not be denied!!!
I would really like to see Taiwan Jones getting some carries to add to Bush power. That speed has been sorely missed in the running game. Glad to get Jacoby back too. Let's spank SD...
Raidah, read the post and at first glance had to disagree. I to like a healthy McFadden in the backfield but he is real prone to injuries. Bush on th eother hand carries himself well. The only problem i see is TJ as of yet unproven but then again he looks good when called on and has delivered some nice plays. Also of note what are they doingn with Pryor??? Never any mention
I feel your frustration, but Jones has had issues of his own, and when he was on the field I had not seen anything that resembled the explosiveness of McFadden. Then again, for McFadden's first couple of years I was saying what is the big deal with this guy. Bush always seems to do better. Until last year that is. I am still salivating at the idea of seeing Carson Palmer with both Moore and Ford on the field and McFadden in the back field. But yes, if we stick with McFadden, we definately need a back up plan, and that is a big concern.
my reply to that my raider brotha is if we dont think dmac can stay healthy, jones has missed a lot of time this season and hasn't even played that much.
@massillonraider Those sacks were a product of a Charger offensive line that was completely depleated. It was weak coming in and they lost their left tackle and left guard in the game. Wimbley had all four sacks after they lost their left tackle.
@JarrodRollins i'm sure we'll see a lot of quick outs and reverses to make up for the lack of speed in the running game. Hue will be pulling out all stops in this game, as well as all season long. it will be a game to remember to be certain... for good or bad, that remains unknown... that's what scares me the most. if they hadn't choked against DET, they would be controlling their own destiny right now!! very frustrating, but the TIME IS NOW, THIS SUNDAY! I love the fact that all but DMC and Sh0-Nasty will be available ... lets hope Ford doesn't have a whole lot of rust and just explodes along with Moore! our running game HAS to be there in order for the deep game to work and to keep our SHOTTY DEFENSE off of the field. keep Rivers and the Chucky BS D on the sidelines, and we have a good shot in doing our part to get into the playoffs.
has their line gotten better over there? at least bres. found out what was working and he kept putting wimbley over there on the line to win that battle. rivers will be peeking that way all day, especially if kam can get to him early.
@DARKKUSH @JarrodRollins No doubt- I think keeping Bren out of this is more important than Rivers. Bush has run all over S.D and in my opinion is one of the biggest reasons we've won the last 3 meetings. I think we should feed the power run until their Defence gives up. Not having anything to play for, I think if we make the game very physical, they will fold. Never thought I would be a Chiefs fan even for a day.