After two straight losses, the Raiders know the future is now. It’s either win the remaining three games of the season or forget about the playoffs.
So, Wednesday’s practice, said head coach Hue Jackson, was “awesome,” with a palpable feeling of “urgency and intensity.”
The players felt it, too.
“We have a chance to get to the playoffs,” quarterback Carson Palmer told Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group. “We have to go 3-0 in the next three weeks. There is no other option, there is no other route. … For us, we got to start on Sunday.”
At least it appears the Raiders will have wide receiver Denarius Moore back for the final three games, beginning with Sunday’s game against the 8-5 Detroit Lions at O.co Coliseum.
Moore and fellow receiver Jacoby Ford have been missing from the lineup the past few games, leaving Palmer with few big-play and deep-threat options.
And Moore, a rookie from Tennessee, has been the Raiders’ most dynamic receiver this season with 24 catches for 410 yards and four TDs.
Moore, who missed the last three games with a foot injury, returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday.
“He didn’t get a ton of work,” Palmer told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vittorio Tafur, “but he looked good.”
Jackson said getting Moore back will be “a tremendous boost.”
Ford, who also has a foot injury, ran on the side but did not practice, Tafur reported, and running back Darren McFadden (foot) was absent.
It’s beginning to look like the Raiders will have to make their three-game run to the playoffs without McFadden. And even if Oakland gets into the postseason, McFadden may not be available.
Tafur reported on his blog that ESPN’s Stephania Bell, a physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist, said the foot injury suffered by McFadden Oct. 23 vs. Kansas City – called by the team a “mid-foot sprain” and by others a “Lisfranc” injury -- can be a long-term injury.
Said Bell: “For any injury to the midfoot, it is important that full healing occur in order to restore normal gait and prevent future problems, which can render the recovery process slow. In McFadden’s case, his recovery appears to be taking longer than the Raiders initially projected it would, adding to the frustration of all looking from the outside in.”
With McFadden out, and Michael Bush getting the majority of carries, Oakland’s running game – its best weapon early in the season – has slowed. As the Associated Press reported, the Raiders have gone more than 14 quarters and 99 carries without a run of at least 20 yards after having 19 such runs in the first 9½ games.
That could change Sunday, however. While the Raiders defense gives up the most yards per carry in the NFL at 5.1 yards per attempt, the Lions are the second-worst at 5.2.
With Moore back, and a defense Oakland should be able to run against, the Raiders are hopeful of getting back in the win column. That would be one down, two to go.