It’s time for the Raiders to set their sights on the Houston Texans for their upcoming road test this Sunday. The Patriots game is in the books, but one former Raider still has his mind on New England. Meanwhile Louis Murphy is “excited” to be back after eight long weeks off from active competition and the Raiders got one more rookie running back to sign a contracts this year. Let’s get right into it.
The Raiders have another good test this Sunday playing a Houston Texans team that has an offense very similar to their own. The Texans have a sound rushing attack that will be manned mainly by Arian Foster this weekend. Foster is coming off a 155 yard performance last week and will look to duplicate that against a run defense that is questionable at best. In addition to that run game, the Texans have an elite NFL quarterback who tends to put up 300-yard games on a regular basis.
The Texans, however, will be without wide receiver Andre Johnson this weekend. That will help a Raiders defense that has struggled to keep healthy men in their secondary this season. At this point, the Raiders are moving people from practice squad to roster quicker than the ink is drying on the contract. This week’s addition was DB Ron Parker, though Hue Jackson is being very vague in exactly what Parker’s role will be with the team as safety or cornerback. One can assume it would be the latter considering they have four safeties with the return of Mike Mitchell and would have five if Michael Huff can go this weekend.
The addition of Parker to the practice squad meant the Raiders had to give up on SMU undrafted rookie Sterling Moore. As is often the case, the player who was cut from the Raiders was added to the Patriots practice squad today. That makes things interesting considering that Moore quickly became a fan favorite for his solid play in training camp and in the preseason. The Raiders staff evidently didn’t see much that they liked from Moore, for now they have moved Parker to the active roster. A newcomer over the guy who was there in preseason – and the guy who was there is a Patriot. It’s going to be interesting to see if Moore can convince Bill Belichick that he is the player some of us think he is. Lord knows the Patriots could use more help in their secondary. The next signing of the Patriots will most likely be wide receiver Nick Miller.
But enough talk of the ill-advised Patriots – when the Raiders moved Parker from the practice squad to the active roster, it created another opening on the practice squad. That opening was filled today by 2011 undrafted free agent running back Nic Grigsby. Grigsby is formerly of the Miami Dolphins and said the Raiders have wanted to get their hands on him since after the draft ended. Right now, Grigsby's role is to do his best Arian Foster impression. He won’t have much of an impact on Sundays, but it’s worth mentioning that he is now a Raider.
The last dealing of the day for the Raiders was getting wide receiver Louis Murphy back out on the practice field with his teammates. The “other” third-year wide receiver has been MIA for quite some time now… and no I don’t mean Miami.
Murphy is a very talented young man who was expected to be an impactful player coming into his third season. Murphy was a starter opposite Darrius Heyward-Bey in his first career game. In that game, he went out and had four catches for 87 yards and scored what some would call two touchdowns. In reference to that, Murphy is the reason why receivers have to control the ball all the way through a touchdown catch nowadays. The point is that Murphy made an impact right out of the gate as a rookie in 2009.
Now entering his third season, Murphy is going to have to earn his time on the field in a roster that is deep with wide receiver talent. Hue Jackson has said that Murphy’s return will not directly impact the playing time of 2011 fifth round draft choice, Denarius Moore. You already know it isn’t going to effect the playing time of the scholarship wide receiver Heyward-Bey or 2010 rookie Jacoby Ford either. Most likely it will affect the playing time of Derek Hagan and Chaz Schilens though.
But if Murphy comes in and plays like he is capable of playing, it could start to affect the playing time of the others. The main point is that Murphy gives the Raiders more versatility in their passing attack, which couldn’t come at a better time when they are in the third week of Kevin Boss’ return to action and going on the road to face the tenth best passing defense in the NFL. In addition, Murphy has been highly touted for his run blocking when he is not getting the ball.
The biggest question mark hanging over the head of this team at this point is whether or not the defense is ready to become a bully alongside the offense. This week, the Raiders face a team that has had that same problem for several seasons, but seems to have found a remedy. The defense was not supposed to be an issue this year, as they were returning 10 of the 11 starters from last season. But thus far, they have been outshined in almost every aspect by their counterparts, right down to comparing the O-Line to the D-Line. It’s time for that defense to step up to the plate and hit a homerun in Houston.
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