By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 at 3:59 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes, quotes and observations Wednesday from the Raiders’ practice, open locker room session as they prepare to host the Baltimore Ravens:
– We’ll see how much the Raiders run the ball against Baltimore or even attempt to run.
In the brief Ravens-Raiders history, which corresponds to Ray Lewis’ first year of the league in 1996, Oakland has broken 100 yards exactly once _ getting 111 yards on 28 carries in a 13-10 loss in 1998.
The leading rusher that day was Napoleon Kaufman, who had 79 yards on 16 carries.
In the other five meetings, including the AFC championship game following the 2000 season, the Raiders have run into a wall.
Last season, Justin Fargas had 11 carries for 22 yards and the Raiders had 47 yards on 18 carries in a 29-10 loss. In 2006, Lamont Jordan rushed for 35 yards on 19 carries and the Raiders had 39 on 26 attempts.
In Oakland’s only win over Baltimore, a 20-12 win at the Coliseum in 2003, the Raiders needed 31 carries to gain 79 yards.
The 2000 Raiders led the NFL in rushing, averaging 154.4 yards per game, and ran for 24 yards on 17 carries. Tyrone Wheatley had seven yards on 12 rushes.
Oakland’s first-ever game against Baltimore in the 1996 season opener brought 60 yards on 21 attempts, with Harvey Williams gaining 39 yards on 13 carries.
In the six games, the Raiders have 330 yards on 142 carries, averaging 2.3 yards per carry. Unable to control the line of scrimmage, the Ravens have 22 sacks in those games.
To be fair, the Ravens have done this to a lot of teams _ not just the Raiders.
“You’ve got a bunch of good players, and they have for quite a while now,’’ Raiders coach Tom Cable said. “But (Lewis) definitely is the key to the whole thing. And good players on the line of scrimmage. Two outstanding outside ’backers. A nose guard. Defensive ends. And safeties who know how to fit that box.
“It’s kind of been who they are – stop the run first and we’ll just adjust everything else.”
Lewis told Bay Area reporters by conference call “We get up for true challenges and the Raiders, every time we’ve seen ‘em, have always had some type of respect or some type of thing that they’re really chasing, and right now I think they’re doing a great job using all three running backs.”
– Tight end Zach Miller had a career high nine receptions for 111 yards after missing a week because of concussion symptoms and was pleasantly surprised to have an immediate rapport with quarterback Charlie Frye.
“Charlie did a good job of finding me a lot of times. He really trusted me,’’ Miller said. “We haven’t been working together that much this season, but we were pretty in tune on Sunday.’’
Miller said the unsportsmanlike penalty he got for taunting an opponent (a dubious flag to say the least) was his first at any level.
“I’m the next (Jeremy) Shockey,’’ Miller said.
– -Here’s how Cable assessed Heyward-Bey’s status for Sunday: “We’ll see as we go. Hopefully no setback. We’ll see tomorrow in terms of how today went and how he recovers. But he looked fine today and he’ll go in there and be part of the mix and then, look forward, he would go in as a backup.’’
– If the Raiders knock out the Ravens, it won’t be because they were overlooked. Baltimore hasn’t lost to a team with a losing record this year and all their losses in 2008 came against playoff teams.
“We don’t categorize the teams that we play,’’ Harbaugh said. “We’re disappointed with the teams we haven’t beat. We’re playing a really, really good team, a team that’s capable and talented and that’s how we’re approaching it.’’
– Looks like Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, a former Raiders assistant long-rumored to be a Raiders head coaching candidate, will be on the sidelines at the Coliseum sooner rather than later.
“I’m pretty sure he’s coming to the game,’’ John Harbaugh said. “He and my dad and some other family they’re coming back from the Sun Bowl I think right around that time.’’
Younger brother Jim joined the Ravens on the sideline during a 27-14 loss in Green Bay and was more emotional and demonstrative than the head coach.
“We’ll let him on the sideline. Hopefully he’ll stay off the field this time,’’ John Harbaugh said. “All I know is I looked around and he was 15 yards on the field.’’
– The Raiders’ decision to wait around for Nick Miller to get healthy was costly in terms of kickoff returns. Oakland is ranked dead last in kickoff return average at 22.9 yards and has been stopped 18 times inside the 20 _ the most in the NFL.