Injuries, lack of speedy playmakers the problem for Raiders

598914.jpg

Injuries, lack of speedy playmakers the problem for Raiders

MIAMI -- Are you buying what the Raiders are selling when they say Rolando McClain's legal escapades this week did not distract them against Miami?Even after the Dolphins thoroughly embarrassed the Raiders, 34-14, in a game that wasn't even that close?"No," huffed coach Hue Jackson. "That has nothing to do with getting beat like we just got beat."Added free safety Michael Huff: "No, this is football. Once we line up between the white lines, all the distractions are gone. It's man on man and they just outplayed us today."And this from Raiders defensive tacklepoet laureate Tommy Kelly: "That didn't have nothing to do with it. Whatever happened with Ro, it didn't have nothing to do with what went on out there today. Everybody knew what it was, so it wasn't no distraction. He probably got himself in trouble, and it's something he is going to have to handle, and something he is going to have to clean up, but that didn't have nothing to do with what happened today."Thing is, I believe them. Whole heartedly.In this corner, the Raiders falling to a lousy 6-25 on the East Coast since December of 2002 had more to do with their injuries finally catching up to them than any off-the-field shenanigans provided by their middle linebacker.Or, who was not on the field for Oakland, rather than who was on the field.Explosive offensive playmakers Darren McFadden (who has not played since Oct. 23), Jacoby Ford (Nov. 10) and Denarius Moore (Nov. 20) and even rookie speedster Taiwan Jones (also Nov. 20) all being inactive for the second straight game was simply too much to overcome.Against Chicago last week, the Raiders slugged it out and prevailed.Against a nastier, more physical Dolphins defense? Not so much.The Raiders could not establish their running game. Simple as that. And by the time they started making any noise offensively, it was already 34-0."We got behind and got away from the run," said Michael Bush, who was held to 18 yards on 10 carries. "We just got our butts kicked today."Earlier this week, I questioned whether Bush was starting to wear down from his increased workload in the absence of McFadden. Now, I wonder if it's actually the offensive line that's hit a wall.For the second week in a row, Oakland's grunts up front have had it handed to them."We just got killed," offered rookie left guard Stefen Wisniewski."Our offense is only going to work when we run the ball. We're a run-first team and last couple of weeks haven't been running it like we should have been, and that's why we're not performing at our highest."See, both lines getting dominated has nothing to do with McClain's arrest and the wake of negative attention."They didn't show us anything we weren't ready for; they just beat us," Wisniewski said. "They were more physical than we were."And getting bullied by the Dolphins for the second year in a row -- Miami allowed the Raiders only 46 yards on the ground on 14 carries Sunday after giving up just 16 yards on 12 carries in a 33-17 Miami on Nov. 28, 2010 -- might be a more damning indictment than being distracted."Umm, I'm going to choose my words carefully," said usually verbose safety Mike Mitchell. "Miami played very well. They played very physically. We didn't play very well, and we, I don't know if we matched their physicality in the run game."That's an extremely tough pill to swallow because we had done so good stopping the run for three weeks and we came out here knowing what they were going to do. Today really feels like an ass-whupping more than a loss, because they didn't run anything we didn't know they were going to run. I think we just more got beat physically than tricked, so to speak."The Raiders' playmakers bring more than speed; they also bring trick plays that supplement Oakland's mauling style. At least when it works.Sunday, nothing worked for the Raiders.And as far as McClain was concerned, he had a game-high eight tackles, despite missing several snaps due to missed practice time this week, and not because of any punitive measures.Distraction? McClain was approached by a veteran teammate in the hours after he met the team in South Florida."I done got a DUI and you don't want that," Kelly said. "I told Ro that himself, 'You don't want that type of attention on yourself. You don't want people to remember you as that. You get a label in this league, it's hard to wipe it off.'"I told him, 'Dog, that ain't you. I work with you everyday and I know that ain't you. You're not that guy. You made a mistake, learn from it. That's the big thing.' As long as he learns from it, he'll be alright."Are you buying it?

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.