By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, December 30th, 2011 at 5:02 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Subbing for Steve Corkran . . .
Looks like Hue Jackson and Al Saunders will be free to dial up a reverse or two as well as setting up a few catch-and-run opportunities for wide receiver Jacoby Ford.
Ford hasn’t played since Nov. 10, but practiced all three days this week and expects to play San Diego Sunday.
“I’ll be out there,” Ford said. “If I practice this much this week and I’m not out there, I’d be mad. I’ll be out there, though.”
Ford said, “It’s definitely been a fun week for me. A lot more joy on my face this week. I’m just anxious to get back out there and help this team out as much as I can and get this win.”
Jackson reiterated he doesn’t expect to use Ford on kickoff returns, with Bryan McCann retaining that duty.
– Running back Darren McFadden (foot), defensive tackle John Henderson (knee) and quarterback Jason Campbell (collarbone) were all ruled out. No surprises there. Hearing some talk (although not from the Raiders) that McFadden could be a factor next week if the Raiders make the playoffs against either Pittsburgh or Baltimore (in Oakland) or Houston (on the road).
I remain skeptical, considering how much time he’s missed. McFadden will have missed nine games, have conditioning issues, and then step into a realm more intense than anything he’s ever experienced in terms of NFL playoff football.
Ford, Louis Murphy (groin), Taiwan Jones (hamstring) and Michael Huff (hamstring). Huff will probably start, but Jones still hasn’t had a full-on sprint so he’s probably somewhere south of “questionable.”
– Jackson considers the playoffs an important first step in what he is attempting to build in Oakland.
Interestingly, Jackson has almost ceased using his oft-repeated phrase “building a bully” and of late has talked of “building a program.”
“It would be a start. I would hope it reinfores throughout the city, the organization and everywhere that we’re close,” Jackson said. “We’re getting there. I think that’s where it starts. Coach (Davis) hired me to do a job, and said, my job is for you to have this organization win a championship. To me, you’ve got to walk before you can run.”
And if the Raiders do make the playoffs?
“Then you go chase the Super Bowl championship,” Jackson said. “And I’m not talking about next year. If we can get in, the whole goal is alive and what it says is, that when he hired me to do the job, we’re starting the process and the job is being done.”
– Running back Michael Bush has 911 yards and is 89 shy of 1,000 yards for the season, and the offensive line intends to get him there.
“He’s kind of quiet about it, but I know he wants it, and we want it too, as bad as he does,” center Samson Satele said.
Bush hasn’t gained that many yards in a game since Nov. 20, when he had 109 yards on 30 carries ten days after getting 157 yards on 30 carries against San Diego.
Since the back-to-back 30-carry games, Bush’s attempts and yardage have been 24-for-69 against Chicago, 10-for-18 against Miami, 23-for-78 against Green Bay, 18-for-77 against Detroit and 23-for-70 against Kansas City.
“That’s why it’s so difficult to be the lead back and the lead ballcarrier game after game,” offensive coordinator Al Saunders said. “You need to have some people that can go in and spell him. Defensive coaches look at what you do well and take it away first . . . in this league, each week, you don’t get any healthier. You either maintain what you are or you’re a little sore, a little beat up, and he’s had a lot of hits.
“We think he’s been very productive. Maybe not number-wise, but certainly in what he’s been asked to do. But it takes a toll on you after awhile.”