Raiders key matchup No. 3: Gaither vs. Richardson

Raiders key matchup No. 3: Gaither vs. Richardson
November 30, 2012, 3:48 pm
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Editor's note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Browns matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (CBS), at the Coliseum.Raiders LB Omar Gaither vs. Browns RB Trent RichardsonTale of the tape
Gaither (56): 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, seventh season, Tennessee
Richardson (14): 5-foot-9, 230 pounds, rookie season, AlabamaALAMEDA -- This was supposed to be a reunion, of sorts, between old college teammates in Trent Richardson and his "idol" Rolando McClain. But with McClain's future with the Raiders in limbo, the Browns rookie running back is going to have to settle for McClain's backup.As in, a guy who has been with the Raiders for all of two-plus weeks -- veteran Omar Gaither.Because with McClain officially declared out of Sunday's game, Gaither will step in at middle linebacker for the Raiders as they attempt to not only slow Richardson's roll, but also end a brutal four game losing streak in which they have been outscored by a combined 169-79.RELATED: Raiders suspend McClain
"Everything that were doing for this week, game-plan packages are a lot smaller than the things you get in training camp," Gaither said Thursday, when asked what he has been able to absorb since being signed on Nov. 14. "I just need to learn the game plan for the week."Its all similar. Youve just got to learn the lingo. One coach calls it one thing, another coach calls it a different thing. The toughest part is the language, but theres only 11 guys, so theres only so many different things you can do."Gaither, a fifth-round pick of Philadelphia in 2006, signed with the Raiders when the team placed Travis Goethel in season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury and Gaither has appeared in two games since. Gaither spent his first five years with the Eagles before playing in Carolina last season.Gap discipline has been a problem for McClain, who comically last week tackled a Cincinnati offensive lineman when BenJarvus Green-Ellis broke a long run."Weve worked on that this week," Gaither said. "I think weve solved some of those issues we may have had last week. The only way to tell, though, is to go out on Sunday and see what the results are."Richardson, meanwhile, is leading AFC rookie rushers with 755 yards on the ground and is just 188 yards away from surpassing Jim Brown for the Browns' single-season rookie rushing record. Richardson is averaging 22 touches per game. He was the third-overall pick of the draft."Im comfortable with it," he said. "Thats what they brought me here for, why they traded up for me. Thats what I train hard for. Thats one thing I do. I train hard so I can get prepared every week for 22 carries or more. Whatever they have in store for me, Im here for it."And with this weekend's weather forecast of rain, a mud bowl may ensue. All of which excites both players."I dont mind that," Richardson said. "For real, most of our games have been played in the rain this year. Only like three or four werent played in the rain. Im used to it now."Said Gaither: "I think its an advantage for the defense, to be honest with you. Im looking forward to it. I havent started in the middle, in maybe a year, year-and-a-half maybe. Im looking forward to going back, if I do get that opportunity. Who knows, I dont know whats going to happen, but my job is to be ready when it does."I want to be a catalystmy goal is to play well myself, and try to get the entire defense to play better. Especially on first and second downs against a good running back, a good running back weve got coming in, so yes, its an opportunity."