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Oakland Raiders Will Look to Keep Running Game Moving Against Stout Arizona Cardinals’ Defense

October 16th, 2014 at 5:40 PM
By Nicholas Gill

One of the most important keys to the Oakland Raiders' offensive resurgence against the San Diego Chargers last week was the running game. After four dreadful performances on the ground to open the season, the Raiders finally kicked the rushing attack into gear. The success of the run allowed the Raiders opportunities to push the ball down the field and prevent San Diego from getting comfortable on defense.

After four games to begin the season, Oakland only combined to rush for 246 yards. Last Sunday, the Raiders put together 114 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Running back Darren McFadden looked healthy, strong, and fast; carrying 14 times for 80 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew chipped in with four carries for 30 yards. McFadden had burst and finished runs with power.

“Having a healthy Darren McFadden will be key to us being able to move forward and hopefully be able to continue to move the football on a consistent basis,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “When Darren is healthy, he can run and he is fast. We have to do what we can to keep him healthy and keep him going.”

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Oakland Raiders CB DJ Hayden Returns to Practice Wednesday; No Timetable for Game Action

October 15th, 2014 at 5:38 PM
By Nicholas Gill

The much anticipated practice debut of Oakland Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden happened on Wednesday. The former 2013 first-round pick was able to participate in practice and even impressed Raiders head coach Tony Sparano with an interception. Hayden has been on the physically unable to perform list all season, which stems from foot surgery over the summer.

“He did a good job today out there,” Raiders head coach Tony Sparano said. “I anticipate taking it day by day and evaluating with coaches and Reggie [McKenzie] to see where we are with him. He obviously hasn't played in a long time so we don't want to hurry the process. We will make sure he is ready to go and everything is alright.”

Technically, Hayden is eligible to be taken off the PUP list and activated to the roster immediately, but he will need time to knock off the rust and get caught up. His only activity since the injury was working out on the side at practice. The Raiders will have three weeks to decide if Hayden is fit to play this season or he would be shut down for the year, and it sounds like they will let the process play out before making a decision.

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Oakland Raiders Open up Offense, Allowing Wide Receivers to Show Big Play Ability

October 14th, 2014 at 5:51 PM
By Nicholas Gill

The Oakland Raiders' wide receiving corps have been much maligned during the first four games of the season. The position group has failed to consistently get separation and have been plagued by drops. However, against the San Diego Chargers, the Raiders opened up the offense and it allowed the wide receivers to show their big play ability.

There were several reasons why the passing game came together. The offensive line did a tremendous job in pass protection, which allowed Derek Carr time to push the ball down the field. The running game finally came to life for the Raiders and that balance forced the Chargers' defense into guessing and never being able to get comfortable. Oakland was terrific on third down, converting 8-13 to extend drives and establish a rhythm. Quarterback Derek Carr was magnificent. He put the wide receivers in great position to make plays with his arm strength and accuracy on deep balls.

“I think they just got called more and we were able to make the plays on them,” Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes said of the big plays. “The ball was thrown in the right places and we were able to make the play. There really wasn’t that much of a change in other weeks other than we might have dialed them up a little bit more.”

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Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr’s Coming Out Party Spoiled by Defensive Breakdowns

October 13th, 2014 at 2:14 PM
By Nicholas Gill

Coming off the bye week, the Oakland Raiders changed their offensive philosophy. The team allowed rookie quarterback Derek Carr to command the offense. They opened up the playbook and it paid dividends. Oakland scored a season-high 28 points and Carr tossed four touchdowns, but defensive breakdowns cost the Raiders a real opportunity to walk away with the win.

Carr was magnificent finishing with 282 passing yards and the four scores. He showed all the attributes the Raiders knew he had when he was drafted. Carr displayed his arm strength which may be his greatest attribute. He can push the ball down field with accuracy and touch. His first touchdown of the game to wide receiver Andre Holmes went for 77-yards, where Carr placed the ball splendidly and Holmes made a play. He made short throws in tight windows and showed his ability to throw on the move. His only blemish was an interception late in the game going for Brice Butler deep.

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Oakland Raiders Have Several Moving Pieces in Battered Linebacking Corps

October 9th, 2014 at 11:16 AM
By Nicholas Gill

The Oakland Raiders have re-tooled their linebacking corps this week in an effort to bring depth and productivity to the position. Injuries have been the main culprit in decimating the position and forcing the Raiders to overhaul. This week alone, Oakland has brought in two new linebackers and placed another two on the reserve/injured list.

The biggest blow dealt to the Raiders linebacker position was placing Nick Roach on IR, which ends his season before it began. Roach suffered a concussion in the preseason and was never able to shake the symptoms. He missed all four games so far this season and never passed all of the concussion protocols set by the NFL. Once he was unable to practice after the bye week, it became clear that this situation has not gotten significantly better and he needs to take car of himself.

“In this situation here, with Nick [Roach], it’s been, if I’m correct, right around 45 days, maybe 46 days since we had Nick,” Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “So, an awful long period of time and the indications at that point there weren’t getting a whole lot better.It’s certainly a blow, no question about it. Nick was one of our defensive leaders. No question about that. He’s a guy that we rely an awful lot on. But, it’s one of the body blows that goes on in our business. Every week, every team suffers the same thing.”

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