The Raiders of today are almost completely unrecognizable from the Raiders of the early part of this season. When Hue Jackson came in as coach, he preached “next man up” in regards to replacing injured players. That phrase has become an all too familiar motto this season. And this week the injury report is as long as it has ever been.
Fourteen players are listed on the Raiders’ injury report this week. Among those players are several players who would be starting if they were healthy.
Darren McFadden is the biggest name that pops up on the injury report each week. It has been nearly two months since he set foot on a football field. His diagnosis was a mid foot sprain with no structural damage. It was initially thought that he would only miss a couple of games. Now it has become nearly half the season.
The Raiders drafted Taiwan Jones in the hopes that when McFadden goes down, Jones can step in and provide a similar change of pace to Michael Bush. But Jones too has been sidelined of late and it appears the team will get both of them back around the same time. So, yeah, that didn’t work out too well.
The other two big names are Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore. They quickly became Carson Palmer’s go-to receivers a month ago. Then Jacoby Ford went down with a foot sprain, and a week later, Denarius Moore joined him among the walking wounded.
Now one of their replacements, Chaz Schilens, is also hurt. Hue Jackson insists that Schilens’ foot injury is not going to keep him out against the Packers this Sunday, and he’d better hope that is actually true. If Schilens is unable to play, the only wide receivers the Raiders would have to work with are Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, and TJ Houshmandzadeh. So much for four wide receiver sets.
A couple weeks ago, the team even introduced tight end David Ausberry as a receiver due to the shortage of available bodies. In a pinch they can also deploy fullback Marcel Reece as a receiver.
Also hobbling lately have been the defensive linemen. The team lost starting defensive end Matt Shaughnessy earlier this season. The past few weeks Richard Seymour has been banged up, and now John Henderson is hurt as well. Henderson did not practice on Wednesday and Seymour was limited. But it is clear that even when Seymour has played, he is not 100%. His relief is Henderson so the team suffers greatly if neither can play. This scenario happened briefly last week when Henderson went down with his knee injury and then Seymour was ejected.
With both players out, Desmond Bryant had to step in at defensive tackle. That would be fine, except Bryant has been the team’s only option at defensive end with Shaughnessy out for the season and Jarvis Moss injured as well. Moss practiced on Wednesday for the first time in a few weeks.
Earlier in the season, the injury bug plagued the cornerbacks. Now that the corners are at full strength except for rookie Chimdi Chekwa who was placed on injured reserve a few weeks ago, the rest of the team can’t get healthy.
And I haven’t even mentioned Jason Campbell who broke his collarbone and was replaced by Carson Palmer. Campbell is scheduled to return to practice this week, but with no rush, his return may not happen until after this week. He has been tossing balls lightly in recent weeks.
The Raiders have had multiple different starters at nearly every position this season, including kicker. There is really only one loss that can be directly attributed to injury. That was, of course, the 28-0 loss to the Chiefs in which Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer combined for six interceptions.
It makes it all the more impressive that they have come out of it at 7-5. If they can somehow get their key players back by next week, they would be in a good position for the all important stretch run.