ALAMEDA – Lamarcus Joyner missed two games with a bum hamstring. The first was a victory over the winless Cincinnati Bengals. That was an easy to miss while on the mend.
The second time down was a whole lot harder. The Raiders struggled mightily in a 34-3 loss to the New York Jets where the veteran slot cornerback and team captain was dying to suit up and help a struggling secondary.
"We went from being on Cloud 9 to watching my brothers go out there and have a loss against the Jets," Joyner said Friday. "It was an uncharacteristic loss that we didn't see coming. We struggled out on the field, and it was tough to be stuck on the sideline."
He'll be back in the fray Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium for the biggest game of the Raiders regular season. The timing couldn't be better, especially after the Jets made plays Joyner normally prevents. The Chiefs will attack everywhere including the interior, and Joyner will instantly improve the Raiders' chance of besting a high-octane offense.
"I get to come out there and bring my energy and passion to the game," Joyner said. "Hopefully I can have a strong game against arguably the best offense in the league. I have to make sure I control my emotions and play smart."
Playing smart is vital against the Chiefs receiver corps, which would also win some track meets.
"You have to go out there and challenge those guys," Joyner said. "Speed is obviously a big deal, especially you have a receiver with a 4.1 (-second 40-yard dash) and a 4.5 defensive back. You have to compete and challenge those guys in unique ways. Football is all about angles. It's all about inches. You have to understand leverage, and fundamentals and techniques to apply against the speed they have."
The Chiefs love to use that speed going deep. That's how they won a Week 2 matchup at Oakland Coliseum, with a Patrick Mahomes barrage of deep shots over the top.
That simply can't happen again, with top-down coverage the name of the game against all that speed. Joyner believes that desire to score quick can be used against Kansas City.
"Making explosive plays is like a high for KC," Joyner said. "We're all creatures of habit, and I don't believe they're all of a sudden going to throw five yards here and six yards there and be okay with it. Those guys are looking for that high, that 80-yard run or that 80-yard bomb down the field. If you can manage to keep that mindset, you can frustrate these guys."