Raiders key matchup No. 3. Huff vs. Wallace


Raiders key matchup No. 3. Huff vs. Wallace

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Steelers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (CBS) at Coliseum.

Raiders SCB Michael Huff vs. Steelers WR Mike Wallace
Tale of the tape
Huff: 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, seventh season, Texas
Wallace: 6-foot, 199 pounds, fourth season, MississippiNo matter where Huff lines up Sunday -- at his regular free safety position or at a cornerback spot -- he is sure to run across the speedy Wallace. Especially if right corner Shawntae Spencer's sprained right foot keeps him out, as expected.RELATED: Are Ross, Huff the cavalry for Raiders CBs?
"Mike Huffs played inside and nickel, hes played corner in the past," said Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. "Were moving him around. Hes playing some of everything this week, like coach (Dennis) Allen said, and were trying the guys out, seeing what they can do, and when somebody goes down, its a great opportunity, see who rises."Theyre on the roster for a reason, so lets see who rises and well put them in positions where they've got to know where their help is, and thats the key. They've got to know where their help is and do their job on those plays."With Ron Bartell on the shortened IR with a broken shoulder blade and Spencer dealing with his foot, the Raiders only have four healthy cornerbacks in Pat Lee, Joselio Hanson, Phillip Adams and Coye Francies.So Huff, rumored to be making the move had Hue Jackson been retained, helping out at corner has some merits. Even if he struggled two years ago in Jacksonville in the slot, and against Pittsburgh, Wallace is seen by many as the fastest receiver in the NFL.RELATED: Where is Huff playing in the secondary?
Two years ago, Wallace averaged 21 yards per reception and caught 10 touchdown passes. Last season, he caught 72 passes for 1,193 yards and eight TDs.He's been slowed by a tweaked groin thus far this year and still has nine receptions for 111 yards and two scores.As the No. 84 overall pick of the 2009 draft, Wallace was the 11th receiver taken (the Raiders' Darrius Heyward-Bey was the first, at No. 7)."He hasn't missed a beat when it comes to knowing what to do," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of Wallace. "He's making plays and he's just fine."Paging Huffmaybe.

Injury report: Murray rebounds well after return to Raiders practice

Injury report: Murray rebounds well after return to Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Latavius Murray will spend this practice week testing himself to see if he can play after a debilitating bout of turf toe sidelined him the last two games.

He returned to action on a limited basis for Wednesday’s practice, and needed to respond and rebound well to continue his quest back to the playing field.

Early returns have been positive.

"I think he got a handful of plays out there (on Wednesday)," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said before Thursday’s practice. "I think he’s looking to get better each and every day and hopefully it’s good enough by the time the next game arrives."

Murray practiced a second straight day on Thursday, strengthening his case to play against the Jaguars. That’s extremely likely, barring a setback.

That would certainly strengthen a Raiders running game that has slumped the past few weeks.

“Latavius has his own skill set,” Musgrave said. “Had some explosive runs for us last year. We’ll look forward to getting him back at some point. Hopefully it’s this week.”

Right tackle Menelik Watson practiced for a second straight day and seems in line to re-claim his starting spot against Jacksonville.

Special teams player Brynden Trawick and offensive lineman Vadal Alexander remain out.

It’s possible that Perry Riley will start at middle linebacker over rookie Cory James on Sunday.

Check back for complete participation reports for the Raiders and Jaguars.

Norton: Raiders 'have the right people,' scheme; execution lacking

Norton: Raiders 'have the right people,' scheme; execution lacking

ALAMEDA – Ken Norton Jr.’s defense hasn’t been good all season. It’s only been a hindrance twice in six weeks, allowing the Raiders to brush it under the rug while compiling a 4-2 record.

The Raiders were exposed in Sunday’s 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, leaving many to wonder whether this defense has fatal flaws.

The team’s defensive coordinator believes these problems can be fixed without a radical reconstruction.

Norton trusts his scheme. He believes in his personnel. He has faith there are better times ahead.

“It depends on what you believe in,” Norton said before Thursday’s practice. “If you believe in the players, you believe in the coaches and believe in yourself…

“Obviously you’d like the stats to be better. But we are 4-2, in a good place record-wise. The stats need to be better. We need to continue to understand who we are, what we are and get better at what we’re doing.”

“We have the right people. It’s just a matter of getting it done on game day.”

Coaches have cited eye violations (a.k.a misreads) as communication issues reasons why the Raiders give up chunk yards. Their 6.9 yards per play allowed is the league’s worst.

Edge rusher and team captain Khalil Mack said opponents are challenged the Raiders defensive discipline. Misdirection, bootlegs, wacky formations and the like have given the Raiders fits, and will continue to do so until they repair what’s broken.

“It’s all about discipline,” Norton said. “It’s all about angles. It’s all about leverage and tackling and the fundamentals of the game and getting down to the nitty gritty of playing smart and sharp. It’s the ultimate team game. …Everybody’s connected to a successful play. That play has to be successful consistently over a period of 70 plays. Everybody’s watching every single play, so you need consistency and have guys playing together. It will pick up.”

Communication is the latest buzz word attached to defensive miscues. Norton said it’s been corrected, just not consistently enough.

“It’s been fixed, but it will come up some times, at the worst times,” Norton said. “We are continually practicing. There are 16 games, and you need to be obsessed with improvement, and we are. Guys care a lot. They show up early and stay late. The communication, the playmaking, the coaching, all of it will continue to improve.

“Everybody wants to talk about communication but it’s guys consistently playing well over a duration of a game. You have to be sharp.”

The Raiders have used different coverage schemes at times this season and made two lineup changes – it’s also possible Perry Riley starts at middle linebacker this week – to no avail.

“You see things going wrong with missed tackles or balls going over our head, the little things and details need to get taken care of,” Norton said. “There aren’t a lot of differences between us and the good defenses, but they make a lot of plays they’re supposed to make.

“We have the right people. It’s just a matter of getting it done on game day.”