Raiders injury report: Defense unfazed by Hunter's absence

Tarver talks Titans offense, Raiders' defense running to the ball

Raiders injury report: Defense unfazed by Hunter's absence
November 22, 2013, 2:15 pm
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The emergence of rookie tackle Stacy McGee allows Vance Walker to slide left and play for injured DE Jason Hunter. (USATSI)

ALAMEDA -- Raiders defensive end Jason Hunter has officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans. That happened on Friday, when the team released its official injury report.

Losing Hunter to a foot injury is a blow, but isn’t as big a deal as it would’ve been earlier this season. That’s because his role has diminished somewhat, especially in the Raiders’ base defense.

Defensive tackle Vance Walker slid over to left end on Sunday against Houston, a move made possible by the emergence of rookie tackle Stacy McGee. He allows the Raiders to go heavy up front against the run, and bring in Hunter to rush the passer.

Even that hasn’t been terribly successful, with most pressure generated by Lamarr Houston and Sio Moore. Taking Hunter out of base packages is a disappointment considering he was brought in to be a run defender. Against the pass, Moore will become a more active pass rusher with Houston on the shelf.

“In our different packages, we use different players for Jason,” defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “We’ll use Sio Moore at times and some of the other players, both in base and in nickel. We prepare our depth from the outset. … We’re going to need to use everybody at some point. We’ll use different players to take Jason’s role. He has done a very good job in the role, especially early in the year.”

The Raiders are trying different things as a defense, and should be able to function just fine without Hunter in the mix.

McGee’s is a big reason why.

The sixth-round pick from Oklahoma has been a strong run defender, and made a bit hit on Texans quarterback Case Keenum that set up the passer’s first interception of the season. He earned his first career start last week as part of a new base-defense alignment, and will get another with Hunter out.

“He’s been a pleasant surprise,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s a strong, powerful player. He plays the run well, and we’ll continue to work with him as a pass rusher. He’s given us a solid presence inside that can knock back the line of scrimmage and hold the point of attack for us.”

OF NOTE

Burris completes comeback: Second-year linebacker Miles Burris is finally off the physically unable to perform list and is on the verge of playing his first game this season.

Burris has been practicing for three weeks, but was finally cleared to play. It’s been a long rehab following offseason knee surgery intended to clean up the joint. Burris grinded through an arduous rehab, and is excited to get back and start playing again.

“This is what I’ve been working so hard for,” Burris said. “Every week is fun preparing for a new team. Now we get to go out and execute the game plan. I love the process and I love the game. I’m so excited to be back.”

Pryor’s status uncertain: Starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor remains questionable with a sprained knee despite being a limited participant in this week’s practice. Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Pryor will be a game-time decision, although rookie Tyler Wilson acted as the backup all week.

[RELATED: Pryor: 'I hope Matt has a lot of success']

The Raiders hope to use Pryor has an accent piece to starter Matt McGloin on Sunday if he’s healthy enough to do so, but Pryor isn’t expected to play. The Raiders hope to get him fully healthy before a return to action.

Raiders Status Report
Out

WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), DE Jason Hunter (foot), SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), RB Darren McFadden (hamstring)
Questionable
QB Terrelle Pryor (knee), WR Juron Criner (shoulder), DL Daniel Muir (knee), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs),
Probable
OT Matt McCants (toe), Andre Holmes (shoulder), RG Mike Brisiel (knee)

Titans Status Report
Out
WR Damian Williams (hip)
Questionable
LB Moise Fokou (knee), DE Derek Morgan (groin), C Brian Schwenke (ankle)
Probable
LB Zaviar Gooden (hamstring), OT David Stewart (shoulder), WR Justin Hunter (concussion)