What Are the Chances?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Their first meeting might be a little awkward. There's sure to be a handshake, some conversation and a few laughs.
     
    There won't be an introduction, though.
     
    Oakland's Zach Miller and Jacksonville's Zach Miller, tight ends on opposite coasts, know each other fairly well even though they've never met.

      "Really, if you think about it, it's kind of weird," Jacksonville's Miller said. "I've never met anyone with the same name. It's really rare to have two guys with the same name, spelled the same way, in the same profession, playing the same position. It just gets weirder as you go."
     
    They'll be on the same field Sunday, with Oakland's Miller trying to work his way back from a nagging foot injury and Jacksonville's Miller looking to continue to expand his role. It's one of several subplots in the game:
     
    --The Raiders (6-6) have won four of their last six games and trail AFC West leader Kansas City by two games. The Jaguars (7-5) have won four of five to take the outright lead in the tight AFC South. So there are postseason implications at stake.
     
    --Oakland has been downright dreadful in two games across the country this season, losing 38-13 at Tennessee in the opener and falling 35-3 at Pittsburgh three weeks ago. The Jaguars would love to continue the trend with what essentially equates to a 10 a.m. kickoff for the Raiders.
     
    "We've struggled with it," said coach Tom Cable, who altered the team schedule this week in hopes of better results. "It's been a real issue. It's been a real issue for just about anybody who does it, so we'll have to try and break that."
     
    --There are no shortage of personal angles, either. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio and star running back Maurice Jones-Drew grew up cheering for the Raiders. Defensive tackle John Henderson returns to Jacksonville for the first time since spending the last eight seasons in the River City. Linebacker Quentin Groves and offensive lineman Khalif Barnes also played in Jacksonville.
      The Jaguars traded Groves to Oakland in April in exchange for Jaguars linebacker Kirk Morrison and a draft pick. For Morrison, the cross-country move was his first full-time venture outside California. He grew up in Oakland, played at San Diego State and spent five years with the Raiders.
     
    "You're going to go out there, see some guys, shake some hands, hug some couple guys, and we wish them all the best and health and all that good stuff," Morrison said. "But once that whistle blows and that game starts, you gotta' turn that off. You turn it off because they're the opponent, they're the enemy."
     
    --Then there are the Millers.
     
    Oakland's Miller leads the team with 38 receptions for 481 yards and four touchdowns. He was on pace for a huge year, but injured his foot in late October, missed a game and has been slowed since. He has just five catches for 28 yards in the team's last six games.
     
    "We have the better one," Raiders safety Michael Huff said. "We have the better Zach Miller."
     
    Jacksonville's Miller is no slouch.
     
    A former college quarterback who threw for 4,000 yards and ran for 50 touchdowns at Nebraska-Omaha, Miller has adjusted nicely to his new role in just his second season. He had 21 receptions for 212 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie despite a leg injury in the preseason.
     
    He has 20 catches for 216 yards and a score this year despite missing summer workouts and the start of training camp with a foot injury. He has 10 receptions for 140 yards and a TD in the last four games, taking advantage of defenses keying on versatile tight end Marcedes Lewis. He also ran twice last week at Tennessee.
     
    "We have even more built for him in our library and now he's healthy," Del Rio said. "Hopefully he can give us a push here down the stretch."
     
    The Millers are planning to seek each other out before the game. They certainly have some stories to share.
     
    The NFL Players Association inadvertently mixed up their insurance cards last year, and Jacksonville's Miller often gets items in the mail, mostly cards people want signed, intended for his West Coast colleague.
     
    "In training camp, there's this fan who says, 'Hey, how do you like Jacksonville compared to Oakland?"' Jacksonville's Miller said. "I looked at him and said, 'You've got the wrong guy.' He was like, 'No, really, how do you like it?' I was like, 'Wrong Zach Miller.' He's like, 'Really?' I'm like, 'Yeah, there's another one.' So there are people who still don't know what's going on."
     
    These two are pretty clear.
     
    Oakland's Miller has followed the other Miller's career since he was drafted in the sixth round last year.
     
    "I thought it was kind of funny there was another Zach Miller playing tight end," he said. "Kind of rare. He has my same first name, too: Zachary."
     
    Jacksonville's Miller actually broke down video of his counterpart while making the position switch last year.
     
    "He's a playmaker," Jacksonville's Miller said. "He's an elite tight end in this league. I try to watch the best guys and he's one of them."
     
    On Sunday, they'll finally meet.
     
    "I'm looking forward to it," Jacksonville's Miller said. "I don't know what I'm going to say. How do you even introduce yourself to someone with the same name?"

     

    This is an Associated Press report.