As the Oakland Raiders came back out onto the practice field in preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals, the team is looking to rally from three straight blowout losses. At 3-7, Oakland is looking for consistent improvement. Both owner Mark Davis and head coach Dennis Allen have voiced their frustration and embarrassment with the team's performance. This week they are set to face a 5-5 Cincinnati team on the road.
Oakland is still without running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson with high ankle sprains. Fullback Marcel Reece had filled in tremendously in their absence, accumulating 151 rushing yards and 146 receiving yards in the last two games. With that performance, the Raiders are unlikely to rush McFadden or Goodson back. Wide receiver Denarius Moore was limited during Wednesday's practice with a hamstring issue, but it is not considered serious.
Defensively the Raiders have been abysmal the last three weeks allowing 135 points in their three losses. This week they will go up against a Bengal's offense that is well balanced. Cincinnati is 20th in the NFL in rushing at 103.2 yards per game and 10th in passing offense at 249.6 yards per game. Quarterback Andy Dalton continues to improve throwing 20 touchdowns already this season. The Bengals may have the best wide receiver in the NFL with A.J. Green. The second year man has 64 receptions, 911 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Raiders know how difficult defending Dalton, Green and the Bengals.
“It’s a huge challenge,” Allen said. “I think offensively they have some weapons. The wide receiver A.J. Green is an outstanding talent. The tight end Gresham is a heck of a ball player. They’ll able to run the football. Andy Dalton I think is really improved. As he’s gotten into the second year of his career, he’s gotten a lot better.”
One of the areas where the Raiders need more production is in forcing turnovers. Oakland has forced only two takeaways in the last three games, while the offense has eight turnovers. With Dalton's chemistry with Green, Oakland's offense must prevent them from getting any extra help from turnovers. The defense will have to find a way to give the offense extra possessions. Dalton has been intercepted 11 times this season.
“We’ve got to do a better job of protecting the football in all areas, offense and in special teams,” Allen said. “And then defensively, we’ve got to do a better job of getting takeaways and that’s something we addressed with the team today and that’s something that we have to continue to work on."
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