Raiders key matchup No. 3: Gaither vs. Richardson


Raiders key matchup No. 3: Gaither vs. Richardson

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."

Carr, Murray treat Raiders' linemen to Warriors game, witness history

Carr, Murray treat Raiders' linemen to Warriors game, witness history

No NFL regular starting quarterback has been sacked fewer times than Derek Carr. Latavius Murray has 11 touchdowns in as many games, with steady production running between the tackles.

These Raiders aren’t dumb. Carr and Murray know their success comes in large part from the big boys up front.

They acknowledged that with an early holiday gift. Carr and Murray bought five offensive linemen courtside seats to Monday’s game between the Warriors and Indiana Pacers.

Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson, Menelik Watson, Rodney Hudson and Austin Howard all attended that game and enjoyed watching Klay Thompson put up 60 points in a blowout Warriors win.

Afterward the Raiders had a shootaround on the Oracle Arena floor, without much success. Howard missed a dunk, an effort he says was complicated by wearing slacks and dress shoes. Murray missed a layup. “I was fouled,” he said with a smile. Donald Penn missed a free throw, though “my shoulder hurt.”

Then Carr stepped up and buried a 3-pointer much to the remaining crowd’s delight.

Taking care of offensive linemen is common in these parts. Last year Carr bought his line flatscreen televisions. Amari Cooper gave everyone Beats headphones. Warriors tickets were on the docket this year, in addition to a dinner at Carr’s house last week.

The Raiders were able to have a little fun after Monday’s practice as they prepare for a road game at Kansas City on Thursday night.

Injury report: Joseph skips another practice despite Raiders taking it easy

Injury report: Joseph skips another practice despite Raiders taking it easy

ALAMEDA – The Raiders are taking in easy in practice prior to Thursday night’s game against Kansas City. They conducted a walk-through on Monday and Tuesday, the only day to increase intensity during this compacted work week, they practiced without helmets.

A lightened load is designed to help the Raiders be as physically ready for the rival Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday in a battle for control of the AFC West.

“I think you do the best you can to recover as we begin our preparations,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “That’s just part of it. I know late in my career, if you played on a Thursday, you’re going to take some soreness into the game, typically. The older guys for sure. Some of the younger guys even.”

The Raiders don’t need many repetitions at this stage, and can prep largely through mental work.

It’s also a bit easier because the division rivals know each other well, especially after meeting in Week 6. That should ease some burden of playing a huge game on a short week.

“I think both teams, from that standpoint, it helps a little bit,” Del Rio said. “You’re not scrambling to get to know somebody. I think both teams experience that.”

The short week takes a physical toll on healthy and hurt players alike. There isn’t enough recovery time for either. Those healthy are sore. Those hurt likely won’t have time to make it back.

That seems to be the case for rookie strong safety Karl Joseph. His injured toe has kept him out two light practices, making it tough to see how he could be ready to go on Thursday.

Defensive tackles Darius Latham and Stacy McGee were also out, along with edge rusher Shilique Calhoun.

Raiders participation report
Did not practice:
LB Shilique Calhoun (knee), S Karl Joseph (toe), DT Darius Latham (ankle), DT Stacy McGee (ankle)
Limited participation: LB Cory James (shoulder), LG Kelechi Osemele (knee)

Chiefs participation report
Limited participation:
OLB Tamba Hali (knee)
Full participation: WR Jeremy Maclin (groin), NT Dontari Poe (back), DE Kendall Reyes (knee), CB Phillip Gaines (knee)