If the Raiders are going to beat the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, it appears as if they’re going to have to do so without a handful of key players.
Running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, defensive tackle Richard Seymour, strong safety Tyvon Branch and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey are not practicing today, which makes them very questionable for the Saints game.
Of that quintet, Heyward-Bey stands the best chance of playing. He tweaked his right hamstring early in practice Wednesday, but he is at least on the field and walking around. That’s more than can be said for the four others that aren’t practicing.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen won’t make any definitive decisions on whether any of the aforementioned five will play or not until after practice Friday, at the earliest.
For now, it’s a long-shot to expect McFadden, Goodson, Branch or Seymour to play. McFadden, Goodson and Seymour last played Nov. 4. They haven’t practiced of played in a game since that day. Branch suffered his injury against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, and he has missed both practices this week.
– The Raiders signed safety Cory Nelms to their practice squad. He spent time with the 49ers each of the past two seasons. Nelms fills the vacancy created by the signing of running back Jeremy Stewart to the 53-man roster last Saturday.
– No official word yet on whether Sunday’s game has sold enough tickets for it to be televised locally. The Raiders sold out all eight of their regular-season games last season and their first four this season.
– Khalif Barnes is taking reps with the first-team offense at right offensive tackle. If all goes according to plan, he will start against the Saints after missing the past seven games with a groin injury that required surgery.