The Raiders are on the practice field once again, fresh from a four-day break during their bye week. They are going through the paces at almost full strength and without any new players.
The three players not at practice are: right offensive tackle Khalif Barnes (groin), cornerback Shawntae Spencer (foot) and tight end Richard Gordon (hamstring).
Of course, linebacker Aaron Curry (knees) and cornerback Ron Bartell (shoulder) also aren’t at practice, but they aren’t eligible to return from their injuries yet.
– Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey looks as if he has made a swift recovery from the concussion and neck strain he suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 23.
He is running a slew of routes, running hard and doing everything the other receivers are asked to do in practice.
Therefore, it’s logical to assume that Raiders coach Dennis Allen envisions Heyward-Bey playing Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Heyward-Bey missed the game against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 30.
– With Barnes and Spencer still sidelined, it’s likely that Willie Smith will make yet another start at right offensive tackle and Michael Huff at left cornerback this Sunday.
– The Raiders are off Tuesday, the normal day off for NFL players in a typical week. It will be interesting to hear what Allen says after practice about what he and his assistant coaches gleaned from their top-to-bottom evaluation during the bye week.
Allen said he and his staff were about midway through the process last Wednesday. They had four more days to break down videotape, talk amongst themselves and figure out ways to solve the myriad issues that cropped up the first four games.
From here, it appears as if Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie are confident that the problems are fixable and that the players currently on the 53-man roster are capable of getting the job done, given the Raiders didn’t add any new players in the eight days since they last played a game.
Then again, it’s possible that the Raiders will have in some free agents Tuesday and use that time to make a decision on whether to churn up the roster some more.