Raiders key matchup No. 1: Gaither vs. Newton

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Raiders key matchup No. 1: Gaither vs. Newton

Editor's note: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three Raiders-Panthers matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (CBS), at Bank of America Stadium.

[MATCHUP NO. 1: Raiders vs. easter time zone]

[MATCHUP NO. 2: Mike Goodson vs. Luke Kuechly]

Raiders MLB Omar Gaither vs. Panthers QB Cam Newton

Tale of the tape
Gaither (53): 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, seventh season, Tennessee
Newton (1): 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, second season, Auburn

CHARLOTTE -- So, is Cam Newton more "icon," or "entertainer" for Carolina?

The Raiders figure to get a full dose of both Sunday, as well as Newton's athletic blend of power and speed. It will be a familiar sight for middle linebacker Omar Gaither, who spent last season with the Panthers.

"He's big and fast," Gaither said. "If he were playing a different position it would probably be (defensive) end. And a guy who can run. He has every tool you need in a quarterback, and he can beat you with his feet. So you basically need to keep him in front and contain him on the edges.

"You see the highlights every week of him getting a 60-yard scamper. Those are the kind of things that kill your defense. You just have to contain him."

Indeed, not only is Newton leading the Panthers in passing with 3,461 yards through the air, he is also Carolina's leading rusher, running for 647 yards thus far. Only three other players in league history have led their respective team in both categories in a season, Bobby Douglass, Randall Cunningham (four times) and Donovan McNabb.

"You have to have your antennas up every play, every down," Gaither said. "So it's not like, OK, third down, they have a running quarterback, let's spy him. No. Because he might take off on first down with the read-option.

"That's just the challenge that that team presents for us. Steve Smith is still rolling. Those running backs are good. But you've got to stop Cam."

Newton was so frustrated early in the year that he jokingly said he needed a "suggestion box" from media and fans to help him get out of his slump. Apparently, it worked.

In his last five games, Newton has thrown 10 touchdowns without an interception and has a 109.8 passer rating in that time frame. In his last seven games, he has 17 TDs (13 passing, four rushing) and two turnovers. He has not thrown an interception in his last 152 pass attempts, dating to Nov. 11, the longest such active streak in the NFL.

And having thrown for 7,502 career yards , Newton needs 373 yards to eclipse Peyton Manning for most yards passing in a player's first two NFL seasons. He also has 21 rushing touchdowns, the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 20 rushing TDs in his first two years.

Only running backs Arian Foster (24), Adrian Peters (23) and Marshawn Lynch (22) have rushed for more touchdowns the past two seasons/

"He's a 'wow' player," Gaither said. "Some stuff you can't practice for it. It's like if you're playing against Kobe (Bryant), you know what he can do, but somehow he still hangs 40 (points) on you. You've got to contain him, keep him bottled up and not let him (break one).

"Maybe if he gets a five-, six-, seven- or eight-yard scamper here or there, that's fine. Just don't let him go for 50. And that's kind of what you have to do with him."

Raiders put Hayden on IR, sign defensive lineman to active roster

Raiders put Hayden on IR, sign defensive lineman to active roster

ALAMEDA -- The Oakland Raiders have signed DL Branden Jackson to the active roster and placed CB DJ Hayden on the Reserve/Injured List, the club announced Saturday.

Jackson originally signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent on May 16 of this year after participating on a tryout basis at the team’s rookie mini-camp. After participating in the offseason program and training camp with the team, he was waived on Sept. 3 and signed to the practice squad the next day, where he spent the first 12 weeks of the regular season.

The 6-foot-4, 268-pounder played four years at Texas Tech, seeing action in 51 games with 38 starts. Jackson totaled 138 tackles (97 solo), 11 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and seven passes defensed.

Oakland Raiders media services.

McCoy, Bills run game to 'throw the gauntlet' at Raiders defensive front

McCoy, Bills run game to 'throw the gauntlet' at Raiders defensive front

ALAMEDA – Rex Ryan coined the phrase “ground and pound” when he was head coach of the New York Jets, reflected his desire to run often and run vertically with power. He’s with a different team, but the term traveled with him.

Ryan like to control on the ground. 

It’s no surprise Ryan’s Buffalo Bills are the NFL’s best rushing attack. They average 157.4 yards per game on the ground, a massive total led by lead back LeSean McCoy and speedy quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The Bills average 5.3 yards per carry and run a ton, nearly 30 times per game. That’s second only to Dallas. And, to top it all off, they’ve only fumbled twice running the football.

The numbers are awesome, but the ground and pound may not fit. The Buffalo Bills do it all running the football, meaning the Raiders defense must be ready for anything during Sunday’s game at Oakland Coliseum.

“They really do everything that I can think of that I’ve ever seen in the run game, they have it one form or fashion,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “They basically throw the gauntlet at you. They’ve got a formation thing and they see how you want to play it. Then they’ve got a series of plays they get to and they’re very good at it. No. 1 in the league, and that’s saying something.”

They have a feature back in McCoy, who revived his career in Buffalo. He has 819 yards and nine touchdowns through 11 games, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He has exceeded 100 yards seven times over two seasons in Buffalo. In those games, the Bills are 7-0.

That might spell trouble for the Raiders. They rank 26th with 116.9 rushing yards allowed per game, and have given up a triple digit total in five of the last six games. While those totals aren’t great, the Raiders have won five straight.

That’s all that matters, though the Bills rushing ways might impact the final result. The Raiders have fallen victim to misdirection and schematic quirks, especially off the edge. They’ve been better in those areas lately, though chunk plays are still a problem. They’ve given up seven plays of 20-plus yards and three of 40 or more.

Stopping the run will be harder without Stacy McGee and Darius Latham in the interior rotation. That puts an onus on Dan Williams, Denico Autry and Justin Ellis to take more snaps and plug gaps in the middle. Stopping the run always involves discipline and sure tackling.

Doing that will be important, considering the Bills rank dead last in passing offense. That makes slowing the run imperative.

Taylor is the team’s second-leading rusher, with 639 yards on 6.3 yards per carry. That led Khalil Mack to say they have “two rushers in the backfield.”

Even so, it all starts with stopping Shady.

“McCoy is a type of runner, he can start to the right and he could end up on the left,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. “It kind of reminds you of the old days, Barry Sanders. He could be anywhere. It’s important each player who’s involved in the defense and in charge of the gap, you have to be solid, you have to sound and you have to be disciplined and understand that we’re all connected. Everybody plays together. Not one guy tackles him. The whole unit is responsible for the running game.”