ALAMEDA – Raiders left tackle Kolton Miller has struggled mightily the fast few weeks. The first-round rookie has given up six sacks, a quarterback hit and eight quarterback hurries in losses to the L.A. Chargers and Seattle, a significant downturn following the season's first four games.
He was strong then, suspect after. There were some extenuating circumstances.
Miller injured his right knee, a partial tear in one of its ligaments. That makes Miller less stable, and easier to manipulate when even slightly out of position.
"I think there's something to that," head coach Jon Gruden said. "Again, I'm not reading the exact statistics, who's at fault for what sack. We study the tape. He was victimized by a hell of a rusher. That guy is a great player. We tried to send help when help was needed.
"Miller's knee, I don't think is 100 percent. I think the bye week is at a good time for him. I'll reiterate he's going to be a great player. We're happy to have him."
Miller has also missed the linemate to his right. Left guard Kelechi Osemele has missed two games with a knee sprain of his own. Miller called it a similar injury to Osemele, with one player active and the other not.
"We're doing the right thing," Gruden said. "We're doing the right thing holding K.O. and playing Miller. They're both fighting through some difficulties like a lot of guys do in this league. Hopefully we get K.O. back soon."
Gruden hopes to get Osemele back after the bye. That downtime could help him return and Miller get back to full strength. Both of those developments would be important.
"That'll help our left tackle play better," Gruden said. "He's missed the last two games. Just so happens that our left tackle has struggled a little bit. When you're switching stunts and working combination blocks, it helps when you're working with one of the premier guards in all of football.
"I don't think you need to be a football scholar to know that there are a lot of things that go into the last two outings."
The Raiders offensive line as a whole has struggled the past two weeks. Donald Penn went on injured reserve before that stretch, leaving rookie Brandon Parker to fill his spot. Jon Feliciano was a mixed bag working for Osemele, and Justin Murray struggled after Feliciano went down with a rib injury.
Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson have been mainstays in the middle, but even they've been battling injuries during the practice week.
The Raiders gave up three sacks, a hit and 13 hurries against the Chargers. Last week, however, was a whole different level of awful. Carr was sacked seven times, hit two others and pressured seven other times.
A profound lack of pass protection had the Raiders going so bad Gruden changed his play-calling trying to survive.
"I would say it was obvious that it affected the ability to drop back and look around and throw the ball," Gruden said. "We got to block better than that. We got to play better than that. That certainly had an impact. No doubt."