By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, September 18th, 2009 at 1:22 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News and notes from Friday’s briefing with Raiders coach Tom Cable a day before the team departs to Kansas City:
– Johnnie Lee Higgins did not practice with a sprained shoulder, but Cable said he felt good enough about his improvement that he could possibly return puts against the Chiefs.
The day before, Cable said Higgins’ availability would be determined by his ability to practice Friday.
“Higgins is questionable, he is quite a bit better today. He did not practice in terms of all the stuff we’re doing. But he could be well enough to return,” Cable said. “That will probably be a game time decision.”
If Higgins does play, Cable said, he would be restricted to punt return duty with Javon Walker and Todd Watkins dividing the snaps as a third receiver, depending on the offensive package.
That would mean the Raiders would be able to avoid using safety Hiram Eugene, who apparently hasn’t returned a punt since his junior college days at Pearl River Community College in Mississippi. Eugene said he returned punts in college, but there is no record of him returning a punt at Louisiana Tech.
Walker, the other possibilty as a punt return specialist, returned kickoffs as a rookie in Green Bay but has had none since.
– The shin injury to Nick Miller could contribute toward keeping running back Justin Fargas for awhile. Cable would not commit to having Fargas among the 45 eligible players against the Chiefs because Louis Rankin must be in uniform to return kickoffs.
Cable said Michael Bush would back up starter Darren McFadden.
“We’d like to have all three of them up,” Cable said. “But we also have to take care of this return issue and the special teams thing for right now.”
While Cable said he considered McFadden the starter, with Bush and McFadden both as the backups, it’s pretty clear at this point Fargas is No. 3 on the depth chart.
– Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (wrist) and linebacker Kirk Morrison practiced, were listed as probable and will start. Defensive end Greg Ellis (shoudler) was limited but will also start. Chaz Schilens (foot) and Nick Miller are out.
– The guess here is Schilens may miss the Denver game next week as well as the Chiefs game, based on Cable’s closely-guarded optimism.
“He’s started to move around this week,” Cable said. “He’ll probably get more next week and we’ll evaluate it come Thursday of next week.”