By Steve Corkran
Friday, December 9th, 2011 at 1:41 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders coach Hue Jackson just announced that running backs Darren McFadden (foot) and Taiwan Jones (hamstring) and wide receivers Denarius Moore (foot) and Jacoby Ford (foot) will not play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
All four of those players have missed at least the past two games. McFadden has not played since Oct. 23. There’s still no firm timetable for his return.
Jackson also confirmed that Moore and Ford were close enough to returning that he put them through a workout this morning in an attempt to see if there was any hope of getting back at least one of his starting receivers.
“Yes, it was,” Jackson said, when asked if the workouts were designed to gauge their readiness. “They’re getting closer. Not there yet. But we’re very close.”
Michael Bush will be the starting running back for the sixth straight game, with Rock Cartwright and Marcel Reece backing him up in the run game.
Chaz Schilens is ready to go despite his foot injury against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, Jackson said. That means Schilens and Darrius Heyward-Bey will start at the receiver spots, with Louis Murphy and T.J. Houshmandzadeh the lone backups.
Defensive tackle John Henderson (knee) is questionable for Sunday’s game. Every other injured player who hasn’t been ruled out yet is probable or full go.
The Raiders will conduct their walk-through practice Saturday outside, even though there is an indoor facility at their disposal in Green Bay.
Jackson said he wants his players to get acclimated to the conditions they will face Sunday, when the temperature is forecast for somewhere between 27 degrees and 38 throughout the day.
“We’re not going to worry about the elements,” Jackson said. “We’re a weather-proof football team. Snow, rain, hot cold, we got to play. That’s just the way it goes.”
CUE THE HIGHLIGHTS
The Packers passing game is one of the most dynamic in the league. The Raiders are well aware of that fact, and they embrace the challenge.
Jackson said the Raiders have their hands full going against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has posted 12 straight games with a passer rating above 106.0 and thrown for 37 touchdowns against only six interceptions.
“He’s good,” Jackson said of Rodgers. “But what a challenge. If you’re a defensive back, this is the kind of games you like. Here’s a chance for a bunch of young men to create opportunities for themselves and get their name on SportsCenter. They’ve got to make those plays.
“That’s what this is all about. If you want to be the best, you want to play against the best, and these guys are as good as there is in football, and when our guys have an opportunity to be good, they need to step up and play that way, and they will.”
Strong safety Tyvon Branch says he and his defensive back mates are looking forward to the challenge. At the same time, they aren’t going to treat this any differently than other games.
“Week in and week out, you want to go out there and put your best foot forward, regardless who you’re playing against,” Branch said. “That’s the nature of this league. You want to go it there and play hard and play consistent every week. With a guy of his caliber, there’s a little more spotlight on it. But week in and week out, we want to do the same thing.”
RUN, RUN, RUN
It’s no secret that the best way to beat the Packers is to keep their high-powered offense off the field as much as possible.
Doing so is easier said than done, of course. However, consider the fact that the Packers defense allows an average of 4.9 yards per carry this season.
Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders knows the Packers are vulnerable against the run. He also realizes that the Raiders need to keep the game close so that they are in position to run the ball as often as they would like.
“Well, there’s no question,” Saunders said. “Our offense is built around running the football. Our players know that. We feel that we have not run the football as successfully or as frequently as we would have liked to probably in the last couple of weeks. And we’ve got to back to that because that’s what we are. We’re at our best when we’re running the football effectively.”
Jackson said the Raiders won’t necessarily force the issue in the running game.
“At the end of the day, they find a way to win, and that’s what we’re all about right now,” Jackson said. “We try to find a way to win. We don’t care whether we run it, throw it, kick it. We don’t care. We just want to win. That’s what this is all about.”
PALMER VS. PACKERS
Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer calls Lambeau Field his favorite place to play a game. And, why not? He is 1-0 in regular-season games at the hallowed site.
Palmer guided the Cincinnati Bengals to a 31-24 victory over the Packers on Sept. 20, 2009, despite having two passes intercepted by cornerback Charles Woodson — he returned one for a touchdown.
In that game, Palmer completed 15 of 23 passes for 185 yards, with three touchdowns and a 93.3 passer rating. Rodgers was 21 of 39 for 261 yards and one touchdown, with an 83.4 passer rating.
Overall, Palmer is 2-0 against the Packers all-time. He also led the Bengals past the Packers in 2005, though that game was played in Cincinnati.
Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour was fined $30,000 by the NFL for “unnecessary roughness” against Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito.
The referee in that game ejected Seymour from the game and assessed a 15-yard penalty for punching Incognito in the face. Seymour has been ejected from a game in each of his three seasons with the Raiders.
Jackson said he didn’t think Seymour’s actions warranted an ejection. Seymour apologized after the game for his transgression, saying, “I shouldn’t have let my emotions get the best of me. No excuses.”
Incognito and Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake were fined $7,500 and $15,000, respectively, for late hits against the Raiders.
WHY NOT THE RAIDERS?
Jackson saw what the Packers did last season, when they got on a roll late in the season and rode that wave through the Super Bowl despite a slew of injuries to key players.
He is hopeful that the Raiders can follow that blueprint, with or without the aforementioned injured players.
“I truly believe in my football team,” Jackson said. “We have a chance to do anything we want to do. When our players set their mind to it, there’s nothing that they can’t do. I know that was the Packers’ situation a year ago. Year to year, everything changes.
“But we have an opportunity, just because this team’s really a good football team, and when they’re focused and they play great and the intensity is how I know it should be and what it should be, we can play and beat anybody.”
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