Raiders coach Dennis Allen talked about making a few “tweaks” during the bye week. One of those changes manifested itself in rookie linebacker Miles Burris supplanting Rolando McClain on certain downs.
In the first four games, Burris was the linebacker coming off the field whenever the Raiders went with an extra defensive back in their so-called nickel package. McClain became that guy Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
McClain’s snaps dropped from 73 against the Broncos on Sept. 30 to 17 against the Falcons on Sunday.
By comparison, Burris played 27 of the 77 snaps against the Broncos and all 55 against the Falcons.
Allen said he doesn’t foresee getting away from this alignment, given how well Burris played against the Falcons.
“Every week, we’re going to evaluate and see where we’re at,” Allen said, “but he did enough (Sunday) in the game to earn the right to be back out there again in nickel situations.”
The Raiders selected McClain in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. He has started 34 of 37 games since he arrived as the projected linchpin for the Raiders defense.
McClain has come under fire from fans for his lack of consistency as an impact player. In Burris, Allen sees a young player who gets better each game.
“He’s not a repeat mistake offender,” Allen said. “He makes the corrections, he understands football and concepts and he’s able to make adjustments and get things corrected. As long as he continues to do that, he’ll continue to improve.”
— The Raiders remain convinced that it’s only a matter of time before running back Darren McFadden breaks out of his season-long slump.
On Sunday, McFadden rushed for 70 yards on 27 carries (2.6-yard average) – he had a 21-yard run negated by a holding penalty. He stands at 271 yards (3.2) through five games.
By comparison, McFadden rushed for 519 yards on 91 carries (5.7) through the first five games last season.
“I was pleased with the way that he ran the ball,” Allen said. “He ran the ball extremely hard. There are still a lot of adjustments that we’ve got to make and some things we have to do because there’s still meat left on the bone there.
— Weak-side linebacker Aaron Curry is slated to practice Wednesday for the first time since he was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp with sore knees.
The Raiders have a 21-day window to take a look at Curry and decide how to proceed.
They can activate Curry and place him on their 53-man roster at any point during the three-week window. Once the window closes, Curry has to be activated, waived or placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Allen said Curry’s health isn’t in question so much; it’s more a concern about his being in football shape. Curry hasn’t practiced since June, and he has not played in a game of any kind since last season.
“He’s used this time to kind of prepare for all positions at the linebacker position,” Allen said. “We’ve got a plan in place for him to be able to potentially play in any of those three spots.”
— Recently signed defensive end Andre Carter played mostly right end in his Raiders debut Sunday and participated in 24 of the team’s 55 defensive plays.
Carter assisted on only one tackle in his first game since joining the Raiders on Sept. 26.
“He did some good things but, also, he’s still a little bit rusty,” Allen said. “So, every day that he gets an opportunity to get out there and practice and every game that he gets a chance to get out there, he’ll get better and better. But his presence, his veteran leadership, is good for our team.”
— The Raiders on Sunday looked much like the team that set NFL records for penalties (163) and yards penalized (1,358) when they got flagged 12 times for 110 yards.
They entered the Falcons game as one of the league’s least-penalized teams through four games at 19 for 143. Even with the huge spike Sunday, the Raiders are tied for fifth in fewest penalties (31) and sixth in fewest penalty yards (253).
— Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey made a successful return to the field three weeks after suffering a concussion and neck strain.
Heyward-Bey played the most snaps of Oakland’s five receivers against the Falcons, but he didn’t have any receptions. His contributions were limited to blocking and turning an end around into 20 yards and a first down.
— Right guard Mike Brisiel suffered a concussion against the Falcons, Allen said. Brisiel began the league-mandated testing protocol on Monday.
Allen said the Raiders emerged from the Falcons game without any other significant injuries.