The Raiders received some much-needed positive news, and they received it in the form of middle linebacker Rolando McClain returning to practice today.
McClain suffered a concussion against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. He missed practice Wednesday. At this rate, it appears as if McClain is in line to start against the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday.
If McClain suffers a relapse, it’s likely that Travis Goethel would start in middle, flanked by Miles Burris and Philip Wheeler.
— Cornerback Coye Francies also is practicing today. He, too, suffered a concussion against the Dolphins and was prohibited from a return until he passed the concussion-related tests.
Francies is one a handful of backups in line for some playing time in certain situations, given injuries to starters Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer — Bartell is on short-term injured reserve, Spencer is out with an injured right foot.
— Right offensive tackle Khalif Barnes also is not practicing today. He still is nursing a sore groing that he injured against the Dolphins.
Willie Smith worked at Barnes’ spot, and he is expected to start against the Steelers. Smith started three games for the Washington Redskins last season.
— Michael Huff is taking some reps at cornerback in practice again today. It’s looking more and more likely that Huff will see considerable time at cornerback Sunday, perhaps the most he has played at any point during his seven-year Raiders career.
Makes sense, given Huff has experience at the position, in college and on occasion with the Raiders. It should be interesting to see how he holds up against top-flight receivers such as Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown.
If Huff plays cornerback, look for Matt Giordano to slide into Huff’s free safety spot. Giordano played quite a bit of safety for the Raiders last season, and he played well most of the time.
— Still no official word from the Raiders on whether Sunday’s game is sold out. All indications are that the game is sold out, based on the difficulty of fans finding tickets on-line and through ticket brokers.