The Oakland Raiders have an abundance of injuries at the running back position heading into their game Sunday against the New York Jets. That will make the challenge even greater going against the best run defense in the NFL.
Starting back Rashad Jennings was cleared to practice Wednesday after suffering a concussion against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. That is a huge step, but he will need to clear the rest of the NFL concussion protocol before he can play Sunday. Darren McFadden adds an ankle injury to the hamstring injury that kept him out for three of the last four games. He did not practice. Back-up running back and special teams ace Jeremy Stewart did not participate Wednesday either. The Raiders gave reps to former running back Taiwan Jones as a precaution heading into this week. They could also rely on fullback Marcel Reece to shoulder some of the load.
“He’s cleared a lot of the hurdles,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said of Jennings. “He’s still not totally been cleared, but it’s really going to be something that we’re going to have to evaluate throughout the week and see if he’s healthy enough to go this weekend. He’s gotten better every day so our hope is he’ll be good to go for Sunday.”
New York boasts a fantastic rushing defense that is tops in the league. The unit allows only 77 rushing yards per game and have held opposing running backs to 2.9 yards per carry. They have given up only six rushing touchdowns this year. The most rushing yards the Jets have allowed in a game was 125 last week against the Miami Dolphins. The only other team to rush for more than 100 yards against them was the Buffalo Bills with 120. The Raiders enter the game with the 5th best rushing offense in the league averaging 133.1 yards per game. It will be strength versus strength when Oakland keeps it on the ground.
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