Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour is no stranger to big games. He played in four Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, after all.
Therefore, the numerous players on the Raiders who haven’t played in a so-called big game would do wise to listen to Seymour when it comes to knowing what to expect and how to act Sunday against the Chargers.
He said he doesn’t shy away from making a big deal of the upcoming game, even at the risk of a player placing more pressure upon himself to perform.
“You have to, obviously, it is a big game,” Seymour said. “So, you can’t deny that fact but, as a competitor, as a player, you have to embrace these moments because they don’t come around often. And that’s something that I’ve always done throughout my career. You want to play your best football in the biggest games. And, as a competitor, you have to want that. But you have to enjoy it. It’s a fun time.”
Quarterback Carson Palmer said he cautions players to treat such games the same way they did the Thursday night game against the Chargers on Nov. 10, when the Raiders played before a national audience, in prime time.
“I don’t think you make too big of a deal of it,” Palmer said. “It’s another game. All games are important, all games we need to win. Especially with young guys who don’t have a lot of experience, you don’t want to freak anyone out or make people think you need to play differently or make a spectacular play or do anything out of the ordinary.
“You just need to do your job and go through your footwork, where your eyes should be, where your hands should be and all those little things and not put too much emphasis on, ‘We have to win, , we have to win, we have to win.’ Guys just need to go out and play and do their jobs.”
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
Sunday’s game is sold out, meaning it will be televised locally and the Raiders sold out all eight of their regular-season home games.
The Raiders failed to sell out more than six games in any of the previous 16 seasons since their relocation to Oakland. Jackson said he expects the fans to be off the hook Sunday.
“If I know our fans and the way they’ve been for us all year, it’s going to be unbelievable,” Jackson said. “They’ll be on the edge of their seats. They’ll bring the noise and the passion, and they’ll give us extra energy. We need them, and I expect them to be as loud as they’ve ever been, and we need a true 12th man this week.”
Jackson feels as if the only way he and his players can repay the fans for their loyalty, passion and commitment is to win more games at home, in addition to making the playoffs.
The Raiders are 5-3 on the road this season but only 3-4 at the Coliseum.
“We’re making progress, and I’m happy and my hat goes out to our fans for supporting us,” Jackson said. “What we have to do is give back to them, like I’ve always said, and how we give back is by winning. For some reason, we’re much different than what we were a year ago. We were winning in our division at home and on the road. This year has been on the road and not at home. We’ve got to get that trend changed. We need to win at home.”
CHARGERS GOING TO MAIL IT IN?
Jackson made a point Wednesday of saying there’s no way the Chargers are going to go through the motions Sunday, that the Chargers are going to be motivated to beat the Raiders.
Earlier this month, Jackson said teams such as the Chargers in a situation where they are out of playoff contention tend to shut it down if the opponent can succeed in the run.
The thinking goes, it’s easier to break a team’s spirit if you keep pounding away and make it a more physical game than usual.
Here’s Jackson’s take Dec. 9, two days before the Raiders played the Green Bay Packers.
“Toward the end of the year, people really start to run it (more),” Jackson said. “People kind of know where they stand, probably, with the chances of playoffs and everything else. The games we play, they’re going to be very competitive games down the stretch here.
“Every game counts for us, but the teams that know they don’t have a chance, normally teams that play those teams run the ball against them because eventually those guys say, ‘OK, I’ve had enough.’ They make a business decision to take the game off. That’s my opinion. That’s what I’ve seen over the years.”
In other words, look for the Raiders to go with a heavy dose of Michael Bush and Taiwan Jones and see if they can’t get the Chargers to roll over.
STAT OF THE YEAR
Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt has committed 16 penalties in 15 games this season. To put that into perspective, that’s one more than the entire Green Bay Packers defense.
Tough to comprehend, at the least.
FORD PRIMED TO ROLL
Wide receiver Jacoby Ford rebounded from Wednesday’s practice without any setbacks or lingering effects from his first action in seven weeks.
That gives Jackson even more confidence that Ford will be full go Sunday against the Chargers after missing the past six games.
“I was really happy with the way he practiced today,” Jackson said. “He’s getting better, and it’s good to have him back out there. It’s a testament to our medical staff. They have done a great job. Like I told (everyone), I’ve kind of stayed away from it and when guys are ready to play, when they put them back out there, they’ve been ready.”
Jackson isn’t quite as confident in regard to running back Taiwan Jones, who just returned from a hamstring injury.
Jones is making steady progress, yet he still hasn’t shown Jackson what Jackson wants to see before he can count upon Jones in a game.
“He’s getting better,” Jackson said, “but, again, I still haven’t seen him just turn it loose yet, and that’s kind of what you need to see. He’s real close. I asked him today, ‘How are you feeling?’ He said, ‘Coach, much better. I’m practically there.’
“But, still, to say he’s exactly where he needs to be to play at high level, I’m gonna see it, and that’s just where I am. I need to see it in order for a guy to do it, because if the guy shows you in practice, he’s going to do it in a game.”
HUFF A KEY COMPONENT
The Raiders get back starting free safety Michael Huff on Sunday after playing the past two games without one of their most consistent players.
Jackson and defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said Huff’s presence makes a huge difference in the overall performance of the Raiders defense.
“He gives you another outstanding competitor and another outstanding football player,” Bresnahan said. “We’ll see where he’s at and judge it as the week goes on.”
Bresnahan added that Huff has been champing at the bit to get back in the fold. Huff has missed four games this season after not missing any his first five NFL seasons.
“This is a guy that has been sitting back and pulling his hair out,” Bresnahan said. “He is a competitor and wants to be out on the field. Anything that Michael can give us is going to be a huge plus, and we’re excited to have him back on the football field.”
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski is headed to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his 12 NFL seasons. The man of few words broke from the norm and shared some of his thoughts with the media Thursday.
“It’s very sweet,” Janikowski said. “I’m excited about it. If you asked me that question 10 years ago, I would say I’d be there five times already. I’m excited. I can’t wait.”
Making it even sweeter for Janikowski is the fact that he will be joined by punter Shane Lechler, a veteran of six Pro Bowls — he was selected for the seventh time Tuesday.
“It’s awesome,” Janikowski said. “I’ve been waiting for 12 years. Especially (nice) that Shane will be there. He’ll show me the ropes, I guess.”
Lechler said he intends to set up a round of golf or two so that he and Janikowski can take down the 49ers kicking tandem of Andy Lee and David Akers.
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