What do you call a day on which your team suddenly moves into a tie for first place, signs a former Pro Bowl cornerback, welcomes back a “sharp” Carson Palmer, discloses that its star running back was held out of practice and says it is on the verge of working out a big-name wide receiver?
The Raiders simply called it Monday, the first day back from a short, bye-week holiday.
As Oakland begins preparations for playing the Denver Broncos Sunday at O.co Coliseum, it does so as a team now in a three-way tie atop the AFC West. With the surprising Chiefs’ upset of the Chargers on “Monday Night Football,” the Raiders, Chiefs and Chargers are all 4-3, with the Broncos at 2-5.
The Raiders will be favored over the Broncos – who announced they will stick with Tim Tebow at quarterback Sunday – but the stumbling Chargers could have their hands full at home with the undefeated Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile the Chiefs will host the 0-7 Dolphins, meaning that at the end of this week the Raiders and Chiefs could well be 5-3, before the Raiders fly to San Diego for a Nov. 10 Thursday night match-up against the Chargers.
Suddenly, the AFC West races promises to take an unpredictable, wild ride through November and December, right up to the final weekend of the regular season when the Raiders host the Chargers and the Chiefs play at Denver.
In the Raiders camp, there could be just as many fluctuations before Sunday’s game against the Broncos. In developments Monday:
- Oakland signed veteran cornerback Lito Sheppard, who is expected to play against Denver. With cornerbacks Chris Johnson and Chimdi Chekwa injured, coach Hue Jackson reasoned he needed more help at corner, so Sheppard – who was with the team briefly in training camp – was brought back. The former Pro Bowler with the Eagles, who has bounced around to the Jets and Vikings the past two seasons, told reporters that being with the Raiders this summer will ease his learning curve. “I still remember pretty much everything that was given to me at that time and I kind of pick up from right there,” he said.
- Former Bengals wide receiver and former Palmer teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh was due to work out for the team Tuesday. Jackson – a coach with the Bengals during the Palmer-Houshmandzadeh era -- acknowledged Monday that Houshmandzadeh “may not be what he once was,” but wants to get the chance to evaluate him up close.
- Running back Darren McFadden, who hurt his ankle early in the Raiders’ 28-0 loss to Kansas City before the bye, did not practice Monday, and Jackson did not reveal what McFadden’s status is for Sunday’s game.
- Jackson told reporters that Palmer looked “sharp” and did “some good things” in Monday’s practice after putting in extra work studying the playbook and film and working with some of his new receivers during the bye-week break. Wide receiver Jacoby Ford, who worked with Palmer over the break, told Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times that the workouts “went really well.”