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McFadden working hard to get back before season’s end

An ESPN report Thursday said Raiders running back Darren McFadden met with Dr. Robert Anderson last week in an attempt to get a better feel for whether he can return this season from the midfoot sprain that has forced him to miss the past seven games.
McFadden reportedly underwent a slew of tests — C-T scans, MRIs and X-rays — on his right foot. Dr. Anderson told McFadden that the foot hasn’t healed all the way and that, for McFadden to play again this season, he would have to find a way to deal with the pain.
McFadden has not spoken with the media since he suffered the injury Oct. 23. Jackson on Thursday refused to rule out McFadden for Saturday’s game against the Chiefs.
“Obviously, it doesn’t look great if a guy’s not out here moving around,” Jackson said of McFadden, wide receiver Jacoby Ford, free safety Michael Huff and defensive tackle John Henderson. “But they’re not totally ruled out as of yet.”
That determination will come Friday, the day the Raiders fly to Kansas City.
McFadden jogged and worked on lateral movements with a team trainer on Tuesday. Jackson said McFadden was sore, as expected, Wednesday as a result of the strenuous workout.
It’s tough to envision McFadden playing Saturday, given he hasn’t performed any football-related activities for 60 days. He certainly won’t play in the regular-season finale against the San Diego Chargers on Jan. 1 unless the Raiders still are in playoff contention.
The Raiders would be eliminated from playoff contention Saturday if they lose to the Chiefs, the Denver Broncos beat the Buffalo Bills and either the New York Jets or Cincinnati Bengals win.

BRESNAHAN ANSWERS TOUGH QUESTIONS
Defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan was criticized for the way his defense performed late in the fourth quarter of a 28-27 loss to the Detroit Lion on Sunday.
The Lions cobbled together back-to-back scoring drives that covered 17 plays and 169 yards in 4 minutes, 23 seconds, and resulted in touchdowns for the come-from-behind victory.
Bresnahan disputed the notion that the Raiders played a prevent defense or that the scheme changed in any way because of the seemingly insurmountable lead.
“If you look at the game, we didn’t do that,” Bresnahan said. “We stayed with a four-man rush, we stayed with our coverage approach.”
The problem was execution, he said. In particular, a 48-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to wide receiver Calvin Johnson never should have happened, regardless of the fact Johnson was covered by middle linebacker Rolando McClain and backup safety Jerome Boyd.
Bresnahan admitted the McClain and Boyd lost sight of the ball as it floated through the air and into Johnson’s hands despite Johnson having to break off his route and come back for the ball, with McClain and Boyd flanking Johnson.
“There’s things, though, that happened at the beginning of the play that we didn’t execute properly to disrupt the whole timing of that route, and I put that on my shoulders because we didn’t get it done,” Bresnahan said. “We did not get it done and we will because, when you have one red dot, that red dot is not going to do what he did to us.”
The “red dot” refers to the target on Johnson going into the game as the one player the Raiders had to stop, at all costs.
Johnson caught nine passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns.
“We only had one target,” Bresnahan said. “At the end of the day, we failed because, when you allow somebody to have 200-plus yards in receiving yardage and making impact plays like he did, we obviously didn’t do a good enough job on defense.”
As for using McClain and Boyd on Johnson, instead of No. 1 cornerback Stanford Routt, Bresnahan seemed content with the alignment.
“At this time, (Boyd’s) our starting safety and that’s our package,” Bresnahan said. “Our ‘Mike’ (middle) linebacker is a middle-of-the-field player but not over the top. He’s an inside player looking for the in routes, and our safety is over the top. Again, that’s stuff that we’ll handle in our room. But, no, when you look at the entire play, it should never have gotten to that (point).”

ODDS AND ENDS
Jackson said there’s a realistic shot of Denarius Moore returning punts against the Chiefs. Bryan McCann and T.J. Houshmandzadeh handled that role against the Lions, while Moore eased his way back into the lineup after missing three games.
“There’s a good chance he could be back out there and give us a little spark and a little lift in another area for our football team,” Jackson said of Moore.
Running back Michael Bush (shoulder) was limited in practice Thursday. However, he should be at full strength for the Chiefs game.
“Mike will be fine,” Jackson said. “Mike’s a warrior. He’ll show up and he’ll play well.”
Jackson added that Bush shouldn’t be as worn down on the heels of back-to-back games in which he carried the ball fewer than 20 times.
“He’s carried the ball quite a bit,” Jackson said. “There was a stretch there where he was averaging 30 attempts a game. At some point in time that catches up to you. He hasn’t carried as much the past couple of weeks. We’ve played some physical teams and he’s been slamming that ball up in there the way you have to run the ball.”
Offensive coordinator Al Saunders said the Raiders need to rely upon Bush more than they have the past two games.
“Our back has been tagged a little bit as the one to stop going into the games,” Saunders said. “He’s done a terrific job for us. We have to be more of a balanced attack. When we’re passing and running with efficiency, your running game becomes that much better.”

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552

Jackson talks about 4-3 vs. 3-4 defensive scheme

There is plenty of speculation about whether the Raiders might convert to a 3-4 defensive scheme next season. On Wednesday, coach Hue Jackson fueled the fire by confirming that he isn’t averse to switching schemes.
“I am not wedded to anything,” Jackson said, when asked if he is a staunch proponent of the 4-3. “I am wedded to what’s going to help us win. As we continue to move forward, that’s the whole thing about everything you do – you have an opportunity to see what’s there, and you move forward and get better.
“I’m not going t stand pat and be like we’ve been, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams. I am going to always look to make this team and this organization better as long as I am here. Obviously, there are some areas we have to shore up and get better in and, I guarantee you, we will get better at them.”
The Raiders last ran the 3-4 in 2004, when Rob Ryan was the defensive coordinator. As we all know, that was a disaster from the outset.
Warren Sapp flopped in his conversion from defensive tackle to defensive end. The Raiders failed to get much pressure on the quarterback. End of experiment. Ryan switched back to the 4-3 in 2005.
Jackson will get another look at the 3-4 on Saturday, when the Raiders play a Kansas City Chiefs team coached by defensive-minded Romeo Crennel.
Crennel started as a 4-3 guy, but he converted to the 3-4 after spending time with former coach Bill Parcells. He said he “latched” on to the scheme because of the versatility it allows.
“If you have the right people to play it, it can be pretty effective because the end of the line linebackers are the adjusters and you don’t have to take an inside linebacker and walk him out. In today’s game where they try to spread you out all the time and get linebackers to walk out, it’s easier for us. Plus, the offenses have to determine which guy has to rush, and that’s not always an easy determination for them.”
As Crennel said, the key is having the right personnel. The Raiders didn’t have it in 2004, and they might not have all the pieces right now.
Yet, reading between the lines, Jackson intends to make some changes in the offseason and some of those just might be to address a change in schemes.

MCFADDEN, FORD SORE
Running back Darren McFadden and wide receiver Jacoby Ford sat out today because of the residual effect from their workout with a team trainer Tuesday, Jackson said.
“They did OK (Tuesday) but they are a little sore today,” Jackson said. “We’ll see where they are tomorrow and then we’ll know more. They ran quite a bit yesterday, and they were on it pretty good.”
Neither McFadden nor Ford was available during the media-access period, so we can’t provide their take on where they stand in relation to a possible return for Saturday’s game.
The fact Jackson said free safety Michael Huff (hamstring) needs to practice Thursday if he is to play Saturday, that likely holds true for McFadden, Ford and defensive tackle John Henderson.

PRYOR UPDATE
Every week, I get asked numerous questions about rookie quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Is he going to play? Why doesn’t Jackson put him in late in one-sided games? How does he look in practice?
Well, I took many of those questions to Pryor in an attempt to provide some insight into a player who missed almost all of training camp after arriving via the supplemental draft in late August, served a five-game suspension to start the season and has spent most of his time watching veterans Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer in practice.
“I’m coming along well,” Pryor said. “I’m really getting used to the speed of the game from the defensive perspective of getting in on me. It’s getting better. I can’t really complain. I just got to wait.”
That doesn’t mean Pryor can’t spend his time gleaning information from three veterans, as well as offensive coordinator Al Saunders and Jackson.
Pryor finally is at the point where he feels comfortable with the offense, and he is ready to put into action the things he has learned the past four months or so.
“I can say the plays and I got everything down,” Pryor said. “I know the protections. It took me about two or three months. It was frustrating because I didn’t get to hit the ground running. It took me awhile to catch up because I didn’t start from Day One. But now, I’m ready to go.”
It’s unlikely that Pryor will play Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs or in the regular-season finale against the San Diego Chargers on Jan. 1. He has played one down so far, when he motioned from a wide receiver position to the quarterback on a fourth-and-one play.
Alas, he got called for a false-start penalty and hasn’t played again. For now, Pryor said he is eager to have an entire offseason so that he can get a chance to show Jackson, his teammates and Raiders fans what he can do once he gets a chance to play.
“I just can’t wait to start when everybody starts equal so I can have a chance to get some reps and get some plays in,” Pryor said. “That’s all I’m looking forward to, just playing. I want to show the city what I got and help the team as much as I can.”

NO SYMPATHY FROM CHIEFS
People are quick to point to injuries to Darren McFadden, Jason Campbell, Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore, and others, as the reason the Raiders are 7-7 and long-shots to make the AFC Playoffs.
At least they had those players healthy for more than one game this season. The Chiefs lost starting tight end Tony Moeaki during training camp, starting safety Eric Berry in the regular-season opener, lead running back Jamaal Charles in the second game and quarterback Matt Cassel more than a month ago.
“It definitely hurts but everybody loses people in the NFL,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said Wednesday in a conference call. “That’s part of the business we’re in. We have to overcome, and you try to overcome, the best that you can.”
The Chiefs also are dealing with a quarterback change for the second time this season, the recent firing of coach Todd Haley and an 0-3 start.
Yet, through it all, the Chiefs are very much alive in terms of the playoffs picture. Crennel said the Chiefs can’t look past the Raiders.
“Strange things happen in the NFL, particularly this year, because of the offseason and training camp, the way it was set up,” Crennel said. “We’re just fortunate to be in the position we’re in. If it turns out that we can make it, we would love that. But we can’t look beyond the Raider game because if we don’t do anything in that one, then it doesn’t make any difference.”

AMAZING … BUT TRUE
Darrius Heyward-Bey is within reach of his first 1,000-yard season. Perhaps more surprising, the Raiders haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss rolled for 1,005 in 2005.
Heyward-Bey is at 775 yards through 14 games. He needs to average 112.5 yards in Oakland’s final two games to reach the magical mark for the first time in his three-year NFL career.

PALMER GETS ANOTHER SHOT AT CHIEFS
Palmer’s first game as a Raider came in relief of Boller against the Chiefs on Oct. 23. The Raiders trailed 21-0 at that point and ended up losing 28-0.
Palmer played despite arriving five days earlier and knowing about 10 percent of the playbook, by his estimation. The results were predictable. Palmer was intercepted three times and looked out of synch.
Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers intercepted Palmer and returned it for a touchdown. He said Wednesday that Palmer is a much differen player today.
“They look more polished,” Flowers said. “Carson Palmer had time to get his timing routes down with the receivers, you could see they’re really starting to jell as an offense and you can tell the chemistry is starting to come along. Rather than when Carson Palmer played the first time, he got in, it was like he was just trying to play backyard football.”
Palmer said playing that game won’t give him much of an edge, if any, come Saturday.
“I’m not taking much from that game,” Palmer said. “They’re a different team. We’re a different offense now. Personnel-wise, I guess, it helps a little bit, but they’re playing a little bit differently now, and we’re definitely playing a little bit differently. And it’s in their environment.”

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Raiders chat today starting at 11 a.m.

UPDATE: Steve Corkran will be conducting this week’s Raiders chat at 11 a.m., rather than previously scheduled noon start time. The Raiders moved their practice time, so we’re adjusting our chat time.

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