By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, September 24th, 2009 at 12:43 pm in Oakland Raiders.
If all goes according to plan, Chaz Schilens hopes to return to face the Houston Texans on Oct. 4, approximately six weeks after breaking a bone in his left foot while running a pass pattern during training camp.
“Myself, I’d probably like to push it a little faster than it should be,” Schilens said. “But they’ve done a good, kind of making sure that I’m where I need to be at and taking the right time and the proper right steps to make sure that I don’t hurt it again.”
Schilens had developed a chemistry with JaMarcus Russell that hasn’t been replaced by another wide receiver. He caught all five passes thrown his way in the preseason opener against Dallas (for 52 yards) in a little over a quarter and put together more good practices than any skill position player until the time of his injury.
Schilens said expects that connection to remain six weeks later.
“Shoot, once I get my legs back and everything’s good, and run a couple routes, I’m sure after a couple days I’ll be right back to where I need to be at,” Schilens said. “It might take a few practices, but I don’t see anything being a real problem. I’ve stayed watching the offense, and I’ve been studying, paying attention as well as I can, so I really don’t feel like I should have too much of a dropoff.”
In the Raiders scheme, Schilens plays the “Z” receiver as does Louis Murphy, with Darrius Heyward-Bey as the “X.”
Murphy has six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown, Heyward-Bey one reception for 17 yards.
Regardless of letters of the alphabet, Schilens figures the most productive receivers will play.
“They’ll put the best guys out there. I really don’t know,” Schilens said. “Louis is a great player, he deserves to be out there. So we’ll see. Don’t really know. Feel like the best receivers will be out there, though.”
Schilens started his career as an “X” before moving to a “Z” when his rookie season started.
“I can do enough to be effective at both,” Schilens said.
Murphy said he didn’t think changing sides would be a big deal.
“Our offense is a concept offense,” Murphy said. “It wouldn’t be a big deal to change positions. I’ll leave that to the coaches and how they want to handle it. However the coaches want to go about it when Schilens gets back.”
Passing game coordinator Ted Tollner said the positons are interchangable enough so getting the most productive receivers on the field shouldn’t be a problem.
“It’s very easy, and to ask one of them to do more than one position – like we’ve already asked Louis to start being the inside guy on our three wide-receiver package so that he can flip from an outside, strong, flanker ‘Z’ position to an inside, what we call a ‘Zebra’ slot position,” Tollner said. “ And again, you’ve got to be careful how much you give a rookie because then they overload and they’re not productive, because they don’t know what to do. That issue is a good one. We have to figure out a way to make sure the best players get on the field.”
More to come later . . .