ALAMEDA -- The knee-jerk reaction would be for Hue Jackson to tell his injured players to suck it up and suit up for the biggest game around these parts since 2002, right?Well"Let me say this," the Raiders' coach said Monday in his weekly media conference. "If they're healthy enough to play, then they're going to play. If a guy could play this week, he should have been able to play last week -- that's the way I see it.
"This team has been fighting for the last four weeks, and we have been on the L-side of it for three and we just played a very tough, physical game this past week. I think the most important thing is if a player can play, he needs to come out and demonstrate it at practice first."So in one corner, Darren McFadden (foot), Jacoby Ford (foot), Taiwan Jones (hamstring), Michael Huff (hamstring) and John Henderson (knee) should not play this week because they could not go last week?But in another, they have a shot if they can practice this week?
"You guys know my policy," Jackson said. "It's hard for me to play a player that doesn't practice unless I know certain things about himthey do need to come out and demonstrate something to their teammates before I can stick them in a game. I don't think it would be fair to this team to just put a guy in a game who hasn't practiced because this is a big game."Huff said he is playing. Ford was noncommittal. Henderson was walking around the locker room with the help of a cane. And McFadden has not uttered a word to the media since going down on Oct. 23.But if the Raiders beat San Diego, they put themselves in position to make the playoffswith some help.Which is why I asked Jackson if his bar between guys being hurt and guys being injured was altered with the magnitude of the game."It's business as usual," he said. "Obviously, the guys who have been injured may fall into the hurt category as we move forward. If they're just hurt and they can deal with it and demonstrate that in practice, then yeah, we'll give them an opportunity. Because they're good players. But if it's anywhere close, I am going to always err on the side of caution."When a guy can't play as hard as we expect you to play, the way I know you have to play this game to have a chance to be successful, then I think I am cheating this team."And there is no such thing as a player being 100 percent healthy at this time of the season anyway."Absolutely," Jackson said. "Nobody is 100 percent, but everybody's practicing and working at it and at least out there to where they can do something to show they have the possibility of making a contribution to the football team on Sunday."