By Steve Corkran
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 at 10:39 am in Oakland Raiders.
Wide receiver/kick returner Jacoby Ford is not at practice today as he recovers from the strained hamstring he suffered in the regular-season opener. His expected absence has cleared the way for rookie Taiwan Jones to return kicks Sunday against the New York Jets.
Jones was the lone player who returned kicks in practice today. Nick Miller replaced Ford in that capacity against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, but he avearged only 15.3 yards on his four returns.
As a result, coach Hue Jackson said everybody is an option until further notice, or at least until Ford returns.
Jones is the so-called next man up. He returned kicks in college and has the speed to break off long returns at any time. That’s something the Raiders have lacked through their first two games, as none of their returns has reached their own 20-yard line.
Coincidentally, Miller was on kick coverage while Jones was retuning kicks.
Also, wide receiver Louis Murphy and backup safety Mike Mitchell are not at practice once again. Murphy already has said he won’t play Sunday. Mitchell has not ruled out the prospect of making his 2011 debut, though it appears unlikely, given he hasn’t practiced in a month or so.
Receiver Darrius Hewyard-Bey (knee) is at practice and running routes. He said he felt good at practice Wednesday and is hopeful of playing Sunday.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski (foot) also is at practice. However, his contribution during the media access window consisted of working the machine that launches footballs in place of a kicker or punter. He was limited at practice Wednesday.
Cornerback Chris Johnson (groin) returned to practice after missing one day because of an injury he suffered in the regular-season opener.
Tight end Kevin Boss looked fine in practice, and he should make his Raiders debut Sunday.
No official word yet on whether Sunday’s home-opener is sold out. The Raiders aren’t required to divulge the status of the ticket count until 72 hours before kick-off. Therefore, we likely won’t know if the Raiders-Jets game is going to be televised locally until 3 hours or so from now.
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