By Steve Corkran
Monday, November 28th, 2011 at 1:13 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Running back Darren McFadden was spotted on the practice field this morning, working out under the guidance of a team trainer. He hasn’t been seen on the field since he suffered a midfoot sprain to his right foot Oct. 23.
McFadden walked around the perimeter of the near field, without a protective boot on and with no obvious sign of a limp. It wasn’t much but it has to pass as progress.
At this rate, it’s likely that the Raiders are targeting the Green Bay Packers game Dec. 11 as the projected return for McFadden.
Coach Hue Jackson has to feel pretty confident that his team can handle the Miami Dolphins without McFadden and given how well Michael Bush has played the past five games.
Bush has amassed 520 yards rushing in the five games McFadden missed all or part of — McFadden rushed two times for 4 yards in the game he got hurt and showed that he is capable of carrying the workload.
The lone potential downside to bringing back McFadden for the Packers game is the weather in Green Bay that time of year.
According to weather.com, the average temperature in Green Bay for Dec. 11 ranges from a low of 16 degrees to a high of 30. The all-time low is minus-17.
With that said, McFadden likely would be playing on a frozen field and in freezing conditions. Hey, at least he wouldn’t need a pain-killing shot, eh?
FORD ON HIS WAY BACK
Wide receiver Jacoby Ford said Monday that he is hopeful of returning to practice Thursday, though he isn’t sure if his sprained left foot will be healed enough for him to play Sunday.
“It’s kind of week-by-week, day-by-day,” Ford said. “That’s just kind of how we’re taking it. Slow process, but it’s getting there. It’s definitely getting better.”
Ford suffered his injury at the end of a long reception against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 10. He has not practiced since that time.
Fortunately for the Raiders and Ford, the injury doesn’t appear to be as bad as the one suffered by McFadden.
“It wasn’t as severe as Darren’s,” Ford said. “I don’t think it was as bad as his. He kind of sprained the whole thing and mine is just in one spot.”
Ford said he took great delight in watching the exploits of punter Shane Lechler and kicker Sebastian Janikowski against the Bears.
Janikowski kicking a franchise-record six field goals and Lechler booming an 80-yard punt made them the center of attention in the locker room afterward. Literally.
“The atmosphere of the locker room was great,” Ford said. “They got a ‘thank you’ from the team, and Shane spoke to us. SeaBass doesn’t speak, definitely doesn’t speak at all. They asked him if he wanted to speak and he was like ‘nah.’ But he came to the middle and broke it down with us.”
As a kick returner, Ford has a great appreciation for the value of special teams. He said he gained an even greater appreciation for the value of Lechler and Janikowski by watching them Sunday.
“It makes you appreciate them,” Ford said. “If you didn’t appreciate them, that made you appreciate them more. But I appreciate them anyway.”
Left offensive tackle Jared Veldheer played so well against Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen that it was assumed he would hold his own against Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers.
As it turned out, Peppers notched two sacks against Veldheer and got the better of the second-year Veldheer. A holding penalty also went against Veldheer.
RAIDERS-PACKERS GAME MOVED
The Raiders-Packers game was flexed Monday, with the game time being moved from 10 a.m. PDT to 1:15 p.m. The network that has the rights to the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game that day opted to leave it in place, for obvious reasons.
LECHLER’S BEST PUNT
Lechler set a franchise mark with the 80-yard punt early in the fourth quarter Sunday. Afterward, he singled out a punt against the Tennessee Titans a few years back and another one against the 49ers as some of his better punts during a 12-year NFL career.
For my money, I’ll take one he kicked Aug. 7, 2009, in training camp in Napa. From his own end zone, Lechler launched a punt that sailed 75 yards in the air, well over returner Justin Miller’s head, bounced a couple of times and came to rest 108 yards away from Lechler’s foot.
For accuracy’s sake, I met with Lechler afterward to determine where he kicked it from. In fairness, there was a strong wind at Lechler’s back that day, and the ball took a couple of favorable bounces. Still, 108 yards is 108 yards.
GIORDANO TAKES ONE ON CHIN
Ever wonder what it’s like waiting for an on-side kick to come down, as a gaggle of defenders are bearing down on you, looking to separate you from the ball, knowing full well that the outcome of the game hinges upon whether you hold on to the ball?
For that, we went to Raiders safety Matt Giordano, who found himself in just that predicament near the end of Sunday’s game.
“The saying, ‘Take one for the team’ comes to mind,” Giordano said. “You got to do it for the team. That’s why we’re out there.”
The ball kicked by Robbie Gould and a Bears defender arrived at the same time, just as Giordano attempted to secure the ball, as well as the Raiders’ 25-20 lead.
Giordano got his hands on the ball, but he didn’t have any time to bring it toward his body, where he could protect it and brace himself for the vicious hit.
The ball popped out, went behind Giordano and on the ground. Raiders rookie David Ausberry recovered the loose ball and preserved the victory.
“That was a great kick,” Giordano said. “That was great execution by their part. … This one was right at me, so I had to step up and try to make a play. It was a perfect kick, a perfect execution by them. I’m glad we got the ball, though.”
Being in that situation is feast or famine, Giordano said. He is accustomed to making his living laying licks on offensive players and on special teams. This was the one time where he was the hunted.
“That’s what being a professional is all about,” Giordano said. “You got to understand that, sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. The Chicago Bears, we played the Chicago Bears yesterday. I got hit on that one.”
SEYMOUR MAKING PROGRESS
Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour hasn’t practiced in more than two weeks, and he has been limited in the past two games.
Still, he said Monday, his injured knee is getting better just in time for the stretch run.
“Health is moving in the right direction, so I’m a lot better than I have been the previous couple of weeks,” Seymour said. “I’m doing everything I can in the training room. The training staff and strength and conditioning coaches have been awesome, so that’s been good.”
Seymour is accustomed to being in the playoff hunt from his years with the New England Patriots. He said he and his teammates are relishing their being in the thick of the playoffs picture this late in the season.
“Seize the opportunity,” Seymour said. “You would rather play in games like this where every play is meaningful rather than a game where the stands aren’t filled. It’s so much more fun for everybody. It’s a game that we’re playing. It’s not life or death. It’s a game that we go out and play, and you want it to be in crucial situations. The bigger the game, the more exciting and more fun it is.”
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