Falcons could have elixir for Raiders' running woes

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Falcons could have elixir for Raiders' running woes

ALAMEDA -- Might this be the week the Raiders' run game, behind the new zone-blocking system, gets untracked?After all, Oakland is coming off a bye week in which the coaching staff had extra time to tweak things, anyone dressed in Silver and Black swears they are this close to a breakthrough with the ZBS. Perhaps most importantly, their Week 6 opponent has been leaky against the run.Atlanta has only the 27th-ranked run defense in the NFL, surrendering 142.8 yards per game on the ground, 5.4 yards per attempt."Well, theyre an extremely fast defense; theyre not an overly big defense," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "They run hard to the ball. So, every now and then, they might over-pursue a little bit. But they play the pass extremely well and they play a lot of split-safety defense to try to eliminate the balls being thrown down the field. So, people are trying to attack them in the running game when they play all that split-safety defense."Allen acknowledged that the Raiders have "tweaked" the running attack."Well, you cant throw everything out and just start over in the middle of the year," he said. "So, yeah, theres been a few tweaks, a few emphasis points, but nothing like a drastic change, other than we've got to execute better."Seen any progress, then?"I have, I have," Allen said. "And well see what it looks like when we go out and play on Sunday."And even if they still run into problems, they figure to keep running it.In fact, quarterback Carson Palmer wants to hand the ball off to Darren McFadden even more, despite the Raiders having the worst rushing attack in the league at 60.8 yards per game.RELATED: NFL team statistics
"I know a lot of people outside of this facility are discouraged in our run game," Palmer said. "We're going to continue to work at it. We're not going to give up. We're not going to stop running the football. If anything, we're going to run the football more."That puts the ball in our best player's hand. We're not discouraged. We're going to keep doing it."McFadden, who is averaging a mere 3.5 yards per carry, simply smiled."I'm always up for that," he said. "You want to put it in my hands more, I'm loving it. It's something a running back likes -- the more carries, the better the chances are of getting big runs."

Injury report: Raiders interior D-line ailing; Amerson says he's ready

Injury report: Raiders interior D-line ailing; Amerson says he's ready

ALAMEDA – The Raiders interior defensive line is ailing, with tackles Darius Latham and Stacy McGee ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.

They were formally designated unavailable Friday on the team’s official injury report.

The timing isn’t great from a Raiders perspective. They’re facing the NFL’s best rushing attack, and will need others to play more snaps and stop Buffalo’s run game effectively.

Dan Williams and Justin Ellis are effective run stoppers and must carry an increased workload. Jihad Ward and Denico Autry will also work extensively in the middle.

While a significant hamstring injury will forced the Raiders to place DJ Hayden on injured reserve, David Amerson expects to be back after missing last game with a knee injury.

He was limited in practice all week and is considered questionable, but feels good enough to go.

“I feel good, man,” Amerson said. “I'm ready to get back out there and compete.”

They’ll need him and Sean Smith to anchor on the outside, with TJ Carrie now stepping into the slot role.

The Raiders will also be without reserve edge rusher Shilique Calhoun, out a second game after having a procedure on his knee.

Starting interior linebackers Perry Riley and Malcolm Smith are considered questionable with hamstring strains.

Quarterback Derek Carr was a full participant every practice this week and was taken off the injury report. He threw a second straight day without a glove.

Bills head coach Rex Ryan said receiver Sammy Watkins will play on Sunday against the Raiders despite a broken foot. Local reporters have suggested his snap count may be down.

Buffalo will miss cornerback Ronald Darby and receivers Percy Harvin and Robert Woods, who were ruled out with injury.

Bills Injury Report
Out

WR Robert Woods (knee), CB Ronald Darby (concussion), WR Percy Harvin (illness)
Questionable
OLB Lorenzo Alexander (ankle), OT Cordy Glenn (back), S James Ihedigbo (ankle), WR Sammy Watkins (foot), TE Charles Clay (knee), G Richie Incognito (neck), DT Marcell Dareus (abdominal), RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring), S Sergio Brown (wrist), G John Miller (shoulder), WR Marquise Goodwin (wrist)

Raiders Injury Report
Out
LB Shilique Calhoun (knee), DT Stacy McGee (ankle), DT Darius Latham (ankle)
Questionable
CB David Amerson (knee), WR Michael Crabtree (ankle), C Rodney Hudson (knee), RB Latavius Murray (ankle), OL Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Perry Riley Jr. (hamstring), LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring)

Raiders to place DJ Hayden on injured reserve: 'A big blow'

Raiders to place DJ Hayden on injured reserve: 'A big blow'

ALAMEDA – Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden was a productive member of the Raiders secondary this season. He found a role in the slot and filled it well, playing with aggressiveness and confidence as the team’s third corner.

This was a positive step after injuries and effectiveness plagued the 2013 first round pick early in his NFL tenure. During Sunday’s victory over Carolina, his career took another cruel twist.

He got tangled up with receiver Kelvin Benjamin early in the fourth quarter, landed awkwardly and suffered a hamstring injury that ended his season early.

The Raiders will place Hayden on injured reserve before their home game against Buffalo, head coach Jack Del Rio announced on Friday afternoon.

"He has a substantial hamstring injury, and won’t be returning this year for us,” Del Rio said. “That was a big blow. It’s unfortunate. He was playing well.”

Hayden has played his last down of the season. He might’ve played his last down as a Raider as well. He was not offered a fifth-year team option afforded to first-round picks, and is set to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

The Raiders locked up David Amerson and Sean Smith to long-term contracts this offseason.

If Hayden walks, it would mark a disappointing end for Reggie McKenzie’s initial first-round pick. Hayden battled with injuries early in his career. He was drafted No. 12 overall despite having a heart issue stemming from a practice incident at the University of Houston. He played eight games as a rookie and landed on IR with a groin strain.

Hayden missed the first six games of 2016 with a foot issue, but rebounded well and played 37 consecutive games before hurting his hamstring against Carolina.

“It's tough,” Amerson said. “It's the way the league goes, man. It sucks individually for DJ and for us as a DB unit because he was an important piece.”

TJ Carrie will become the Raiders’ slot cornerback, a position he held as a rookie. He started 14 games last season, but has taken a backseat with Amerson and Smith established on the outside.

“He’s been a pro all year,” Del Rio said. “He’s really been good for us. He played a lot bigger role last year, and has been prepared at all times to go in. We have a lot of confidence in TJ.”

Carrie has stepped in a lot lately, with Smith and Amerson missing time with injury in November. Rookie Antonio Hamilton now sits behind him as the No. 4 cornerback.