Quick hits from Lane Kiffin’s press briefing following Friday’s walkthrough as the team began boarding buses the airport for their trip to Buffalo:
— Rookie running back Darren McFadden did very little in practice and will need a pain-killing injection to face the Bills Sunday, Kiffin said.
McFadden will be watched closely during warmups, but Kiffin said it would possible Michael Bush could end up being the lead back, with McFadden coming in for a quicker, faster change-up.
The previous day, Kiffin noted that McFadden’s runs were coming in a “big play, little play,” mode rather than as conssitent yards against Kansas City and expressed concern about a possible fumble as his workload increased.
That indicates that for all the talk of curing McFadden’s fumbling problems at Arkansas, he still does not have the trust of the staff in that area.
— Kwame Harris did not practice and will almost certainly be inactive against Buffalo without what Kiffin called “a big comeback.”
That means another road start for Mario Henderson, who with a little help from his friends and coaches, effectively neutralized Chiefs right end Tamba Hali and was not called for a single penalty.
It gets tougher Sunday. Bills right end Aaron Schoebel has flown under the radar of national consciousness for the most part but his 53 sacks are the most in the AFC since 2003, four more than Indianapolis end Dwight Freeney.
— Wide receiver Javon Walker (hamstring) practiced for the second consecutive day and Kiffin said the Raiders hope to get him involved. Of course, “I said that last week, too. We’ll see what happens in warmups.”
— In Week 1, holder Brian Moorman, the Bills punter, threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Denney on a fake field goal attempt.
Now all the Raiders have to do is make sure they’ve got the 19 trick plays covered. The Buffalo special teams, coached by Bobby April, are considered among the best in the league and also among the most deceptive.
“They do a lot of stuff,” Kiffin said. “We’ve got 20 different fakes on film over the years from this, and so we have to be on our toes at all times. They’re not afraid to do anything.”
Kiffin said the Bills have displayed trickery even deep in their own territory.
The Week 1 touchdown pass from Moorman to Denney also included a 63-yard punt return by Roscoe Parrish and a forced fumble by Jon Corto which was later converted to a touchdown.
— The acquistion of 6-foot-6, 310-pound Marcus Stroud has dropped an anchor in the middle of the Buffalo defense, and it’s worth noting that the Raiders have had trouble getting untracked with both the run and pass against teams with elite, powerful tackles such as Albert Haynesworth of Tennessee, the Kevin and Pat Williams of Minnesota, and (when healthy) Jamal Williams of San Diego.
Kiffin didn’t attempt to hide his concern for the matchup between Stroud and Cooper Carlisle, the right guard who has been the Raiders most steady lineman since he arrived. Kiffin said Cooper sometimes has trouble holding his own against big tackles with a huge push.
“He’s on Cooper most of the game, and if there’s something that Cooper isn’t very good at, that would be it. He’s 296 pounds, so he does get pushed sometimes,” Kiffin said. “It is a concern for us and we’ve got a plan, but you can pick five plays out of each of those games where he’s just dominating those plays.”
While defending the run, Kiffin said large, physical tackles, prevent the Raiders from hooking linemen out of a play, and that zone blocking works better run away from players like Stroud then running at them.
Stretching the field on them brings in the possibility of a cut block.
“Once you put it in his head guys are going to cut, and they feel that, now they slow down,” Kiffin said.
— Former Raider tackle Langston Walker, who was part of a offensive line that gave up 72 sacks in 2006, has drawn raves from Bills coach Dick Jauron and by all reports seems to have regained the sense of humor and engaging personality he had in Oakland until things went downhill under Art Shell.
Walker even subbed for left tackle Jason Peters on Week 1 and did a solid job, switching back to his familar right tackle spot in Week 2.
Prone to having difficulties with speed rushers in Oakland, Walker will be faced with Derrick Burgess Sunday.
— In case you haven’t seen it, Kiffin has some support in the form of a web page which wants him retained as head coach.