As expected, running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, as well as defensive tackle Richard Seymour, won’t play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said as much after his team wrapped up its third and final practice Friday and just before the team boarded buses for the short trip to the Oakland International Airport for the flight to Baltimore.
“You don’t ever know exactly how someone is going to respond to an injury,” Allen said in explaining why he waited until now to make the decision. “Obviously, none of them make enough progress this week that they were able to be up. We’ll probably be going through the same thing next week and we’ll see where we’re at.”
Allen said the Raiders will turn over the running game to second-year back Taiwan Jones and fullback Marcel Reece. It also helps that the Ravens are 29th against the run at an average of 139.5 yards per game.
Which player starts will depend upon how the Raiders open up on offense. Allen said Reece also will play some fullback.
This will be Jones’ first true chance to show what he can do in a regular-season game. Until now, he has been the No. 3 back for his first 1 1/2 NFL seasons.
Jones rushed 16 times for 73 yards last season. He carried the ball for the first time this season last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and netted 2 yards on his lone carry.
Reece isn’t a true running back, but he is fast enough and big enough to hold his own if called upon.
The Raiders still have the option of signing rookie running Jeremy Stewart from the practice squad between now and Sunday’s game. He will accompany the Raiders on the trip to Baltimore, Allen said.
McFadden, Goodson and Seymour sat out all three practices this week. Coaches typically are hesitant about playing players that don’t practice all week.
– Cornerback Shawntae Spencer also has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, which comes as no surprise, given he hasn’t practiced since he suffered a right foot injury almost two months ago.
Ron Bartell likely will be activated Saturday, Allen said, and start Sunday. He will play right cornerback as often as he can handle in his return from a shoulder injury suffered in the opener.
Michael Huff will play opposite Bartell, with Matt Giordano remaining at Huff’s regular free safety spot.
– Desmond Bryant will start in place of Seymour on Sunday, Allen said.
“He’s had absolutely no issues, at least any issues that I’m aware of or that our trainers are aware of,” Allen said in response to the fast, irregular heartbeat that hospitalized Bryant last Sunday.
– Willie Smith is going to remain the starting right offensive tackle for now, Allen said.
“He has continued to work, he has continued to try to improve,” Allen said. “Again, we feel like that he’s the guy that gives us the best chance to be successful. So, he’s going to continue staying in that role right now.”
Khalif Barnes just hasn’t had enough time to get into football shape yet, Allen said, after missing the past seven weeks with a groin injury.