What’s worse than having a team that’s 3-6 and struggling with its offense and defense?
A 3-6 team that’s also dealing with a number of key injuries.
As the Raiders work this week to prepare to play the Saints this Sunday in Oakland, they’re still missing their top two running backs, Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson. Both were still in walking boots Wednesday, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, and are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
In addition, defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who has a hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday and also is unlikely to play Sunday.
Starting safeties Tyvon Branch (neck) and Matt Giordano (concussion) were also held out of practice and have a question mark over their names. Tafur reported the Raiders are considering moving Michael Huff back to safety and starting Mike Mitchell at strong safety, if Branch and Giordano can’t go against New Orleans.
It’s hardly comforting to be remaking an already leaky secondary while preparing for the dangerous Saints passing attack. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees leads the NFL in passing yards with 2,847 – an average of 316.3 yards per game and has thrown 25 TD passes vs. nine interceptions, and he has some top-flight receivers in Marques Colston (47 catches) and tight end Jimmy Graham (45 catches).
“All those guys are getting better,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said of his injured players. “It’s just a matter of whether they’re going to be better in time for Sunday or not.”
If McFadden and Goodson can’t play Sunday, the Raiders will again have to use a committee of backs to replace them, with fullback Marcel Reece getting some action at tailback – as he did in the 55-20 loss to Baltimore last Sunday – along with Jeremy Stewart (activated off the practice squad last week) and second-year pro Taiwan Jones.
Jones, whom Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer described as an exciting, potentially explosive player in practice, only touched the ball twice against Baltimore, and Allen says Jones still needs to get better in certain areas to get more playing time.
“He’s got to know what to do on every single play and he’s got to protect the football,” Allen told Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group. “We’re going to give him those opportunities at practice, and as he shows us he’s going to be able to do that, he’ll see more time.”
One good news on the injury front: tight end Brandon Myers, who suffered a concussion in the last game, has been cleared to practice and play Sunday.