Coach Dennis Allen said Alex Parsons received most of the first-team reps today, just as he did Thursday. Projected starter Stefen Wisniewski was at full participation in practice today for the second straight day.
Now comes word that Parsons might start Monday night against the San Diego Chargers in the regular-season opener, even if Wisniewski is healthy enough to go.
“They will both be up for the game to help us inside,” Knapp said. “We’re going to evaluate them during the week how practice is going to decide who’s the starting center, per se, and the other one will be the backup guard/center rotation guy.”
Parsons has received a ton of reps at center, during offseason workouts, training camp and exhibition games because of shoulder and calf injuries suffered by Wisniewski.
Therefore, Allen said he is comfortable going with Parsons as his starting center if necessary.
“Listen, they’re all NFL players,” Allen said. “So, we expect, no matter who’s in the game, we expect we’ve got a certain level of expectation of those guys so they’ve got to go out and perform. So, we don’t really think of it that way.”
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp reviewed the practice tapes from last season, when Parsons was on the Raiders practice squad.
Knapp said he sees a much more polished player in this year’s version of Parsons.
“I’ve seen progress in his technique,” Knapp said. “He’s done a fine job in improving his pass blocking skills, and that’s usually the struggle for a young offensive lineman. And he’s done a good job with the command of what we call spotting our line. Because of what we do in the zone run game, the center has a lot of responsibility of targeting us to the right linebacker or lineman, so he’s done a fine job with that.”
— Wide receiver Denarius Moore (hamstring) was limited in practice today for the second straight day.
“Yeah, he looked better today,” Allen said.
He looked near full strength during the portion of practice open to the media. Moore made sharp cuts, showed strong burst off the line of scrimmage and even made a leaping catch.
Moore returned to practice Thursday after being out since Aug. 4. He said he went through the paces today, running longer routes, pushing his hamstring to see how it responds.
So far, so good, Moore said. Still, he remains a game-time decision.
“I’m giving it all I’ve got right now, really gaining confidence in myself, seeing what I’m able to do, if I’m able to pick it up or not, and just letting it go from there,” Moore said.
— Just because wide receiver Jacoby Ford hasn’t practiced or played in a game for three weeks, that doesn’t mean that he won’t play Monday night.
That’s the word from Allen, who apparently is hoping against hope that Ford’s sore left foot will recover within the next 72 hours or so.
“No, it’s not a done deal,” Allen said. “We’re going to hold out and wait until we get closer to game time to go ahead and make that decision. He’s continued to get better. We’ll see where we’re at come gametime.”
— Allen said rookie wide receiver Juron Criner is making progress toward being ready to play Monday night.
“He was out here, limited in practice today, and my expectation is that he’ll be ready to go Monday night,” Allen said.
Criner has been slowed by a sore ankle since the exhibition finale against the Seattle Seahawks.
— For those wondering whether Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning looks anything like the one that played at a Pro Football Hall of Fame level with the Indianapolis Colts from 1998-2010 — he missed last season with a neck injury — we offer you two takes:
“I don’t see much difference in him, quite honestly,” Pittsburgh Steelers long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “I had a chance to play Bobby Layne, Y.A. Tittle and Norm Van Brocklin late in their careers, and the reason they stayed so dangerous as players is because they knew how to play the position.
“I believe the quarterback position is more how you manage the game anyway. And I saw that with Peyton in the preseason: He did everything he needed to do to show he still can play the position at a high level.”
Then there’s Tony Dungy, Manning’s head coach with the Colts from 2002-08:
“I saw a lot of the same things,” Dungy said. “Him going 100 miles an hour during practice, talking to the receivers in between drills and showing them things. But the big thing I noticed … he delayed (our) interview 25 minutes because he was having a (hand) signals meeting with all of his receivers and backs. That’s the old Peyton Manning, the Manning that I know.”
— The Raiders waived cornerback Brandon Underwood from the injured-reserve list after they reached an injury settlement.