The grass is always greener

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The grass is always greener

At his Friday press briefing, Raiders coach Dennis Allen revealed that he had gotten good news on the playing surface at the Oakland Coliseum for Sundays game against Jacksonville.

Last word that I heard is that itll be grass," he said.

As the last NFL team to play in a football-baseball shared stadium, the Raiders always look forward to the day when crossing midfield doesnt mean crossing over that coarse infield.

Obviously, theres a few things that the dirt makes a difference on, Allen said. You dont get the same traction on the dirt as you do on the grass. So, you have to take that into account when youre calling plays offensively and defensively. And like in the Pittsburgh game, we had to take it into account in the kicking game. So, it does make a difference.

WHEELERS ROLLINGAS A DEFENSE CALLER

To counter Atlantas more spread out attack, the Raiders played linebacker Rolando McClain a total of only 17 plays last Sunday. That left it to new Raider Philip Wheeler to call out defensive alignments. It was Wheelers first time as the defense-caller since his college days at Georgia Tech. Coach Allen praised Wheelers work.

"That's obviously a role that is critical to the success of the defense, making sure that communication is what it needs to be," Allen said. "He's done a nice job of that. He's a guy who takes his job seriously and he understands that is now something he has to do."

DEFENSE TRIES SOMETHING NEW

The Raiders turned in a fine defensive performance against the Falcons' potent passing attack last Sunday, holding Matt Ryan to under 250 yards and forcing him to throw three interceptions. The fact the Raiders picked off their first three passes of the season with a safety at cornerback (Michael Huff) and two backups in the starting lineup (Pat Lee and Matt Giordano) makes the effort that much more impressive.

Nickelback Joselio Hanson, who had one of those interceptions, said he and his teammates laid the foundation for their strong performance during the preceding week.

Mentally, we were really focused on communicating during the week during practice," he said. "And we watched a lot of film together, actually more than in the past week. So, it really worked out good for us.

According to Hanson, the players-only film study was the first he and his defensive mates had engaged in all season.

We started something new because whatever we were doing wasnt working," he said.

Inactives: Raiders LG Kelechi Osemele a late scratch due to illness

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Inactives: Raiders LG Kelechi Osemele a late scratch due to illness

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele was questionable to play Thursday night’s game at Kansas City with a knee sprain.

His knee is doing just fine, thank you.

Even still, Osemele wasn’t ready to play. He was a late scratch due to an illness, which sapped him to the point he couldn’t go.

Osemele was listed about the Raiders inactives, announced shortly before kickoff.

That creates a huge void in the offensive line – the Raiders run best between Osemele and left tackle Donald Penn – that will be filled by rookie Vadal Alexander.

Alexander is an aggressive player and a good run blocker, but he isn’t on Osemele’s level. Not having the high-priced player could hinder the Raiders offensive line, which must remain strong for the attack to operate well. The Raiders have allowed a league-low 13 sacks this season. 

Defensive tackle Darius Latham was questionable with an ankle injury, but wasn’t quite ready to play this game. This marks his second contest missed with injury.

Strong safety Karl Joseph was ruled out earlier in the week with a toe injury. Cornerback Antonio Hamilton, Shilique Calhoun, Connor Cook and Stacy McGee are also inactive.

Raiders 'don't mind tough things,' ready for adverse conditions vs Chiefs

Raiders 'don't mind tough things,' ready for adverse conditions vs Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Arrowhead Stadium has literally become a frozen tundra. Heaters under the playing surface malfunctioned on Wednesday night, allowing a layer of ice to form under the tarp in below freezing temperatures.

That information comes courtesy of an NFL Network reporter on site Thursday morning in advance of an evening showdown between the rival Raiders and Chiefs.

The field is expected to thaw by kickoff, but any remaining ice patch would add to the adversity facing the Silver and Black in a pivotal AFC West showdown.

They are the only NFL team to travel more than one time zone to play on “Thursday Night Football,” adding another wrinkle to a game that deserves to be played on regular rest. Instead teams will square off in a made-for-TV event without much time to prepare

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio could’ve griped about an adverse lot, but he refused to line up reasons why his team might not play well.

“We’re going to be excited to play,” Del Rio said. “It’s a tough set of circumstances. We don’t mind tough things. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Beating the Chiefs is a daunting task. The Raiders weren’t up to it earlier this year, when Kansas City came to Oakland and made it their home. The Raiders must even the score or find themselves in a bind. Kansas City would own the divisional tiebreaker with three games remaining, and would be in great position to win the AFC West.

The Chiefs have been Raiders kryptonite in recent seasons. They have won six of seven matchups, a trend the Raiders hope to buck on Thursday night.

“Everyone mentions, ‘They’ve beaten you this many times,’ and these things and all of that,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “When I’m preparing for these guys, it never goes through my head. That stuff never has a determining factor on anything I write down, anything that goes on in my brain or anything like that. I just prepare for them just like I do any other game. I prepare for them the same way that I do for everybody. I’m going to go out there, and I’m looking forward to competing against them though this time.”

Carr won’t compete from under center. The Raiders will stay in shotgun and pistol formations for a second straight week to protect a right pinky finger dislocated in two places against the Carolina Panthers. That shouldn’t limit them much, though it makes life harder on the run game.

The Raiders performed pretty well on the ground against Buffalo, totaling 139 yards on 32 carries. Latavius Murray led that effort, with 82 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

Murray missed the last game against Kansas City with turf toe, but will be ready to take a heavy load this time around. He has been taking more carries over the last month, with a previously equal running back rotation now shading his way. Murray should be a play a big role in this contest, which should come down to the fourth quarter.

“The Chiefs are a rival that we’ve struggled with,” Murray said. “We know what’s at stake for this season. They stand in the way of our goal of winning the division. We need to take care of them.”

The Raiders must take care of Kansas City on a short week, in loud, hostile environment. Oh, and in the bitter cold. It’s expected to be 20 degrees at kickoff, with wind coursing through Arrowhead Stadium.

The Raiders don’t mind that either. They’re 6-0 in games away from Oakland Coliseum, and are confident they can overcome adversity this particular game presents.

“You just have to get your mind right and go play,” Del Rio said. “We’ll be ready to go. We have a good group of guys. Feel like we’re weather proof. We’ll go play.”