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News » Oakland Raiders Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-30

Oakland Raiders Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-30

Oakland Raiders Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-30
A team that used to get a lot of use out of two fullbacks in Justin Griffith and Oren O'Neal has now lost both to injured reserve with knee injuries.

Matt Lawton assumes the role of the starter, and he has neither the experience in the offense Griffith had nor the power run-blocking skill of O'Neal.

As a result, the Raiders could opt for more single-back sets, empty backfield sets and utilize extra tight ends and wide receivers.


--DE Derrick Burgess missed practice with a biceps tear and remains day-to-day, although Tom Cable said he is pain-free and the rehab is going well.

--LB Jon Alston, the Raiders' leading special teams tackler, remains out with a foot sprain and has not practiced since the win over the Jets.

--S Gibril Wilson, victimized on a 70-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Williams against Baltimore when he took an inside read in a Cover 2 defense, missed practice with a toe injury.

--CB DeAngelo Hall dropped back with return specialist Johnnie Lee Higgins against Baltimore but was not the primary return man. Cable wouldn't say if Higgins might be given a chance at a return against his former team.

--FB Jason Davis practiced for the first time after being claimed off the practice squad of the Chicago Bears but will need a week or two to get up to speed and be available for use in a game. Fullback Justin Griffith was placed on injured reserve to make room for Davis.

--T Seth Wand was released from injured reserve with an injury settlement.

GAME PLAN: The Raiders are struggling with their running game, something they did not expect. They have also seen Russell give glimpses of the potential that made him the No. 1 overall pick, even in the way he took a beating in Baltimore and completed some big passes against a defense far superior to what they'll see in Atlanta. As a result, look for Oakland to become more aggressive in the passing game and look to attack Atlanta's secondary. Defensively, the Raiders have given up 556 yards in three games and will play eight men in the box if need be to slow the run and put the game in the hands of rookie quarterback Matt Ryan.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Raiders LT Kwame Harris vs. Falcons DE John Abraham. Harris had another difficult road game against the Ravens, particularly on an early snap when he was beaten around the edge before he had a chance to make a move. He still has the confidence of Cable, who said he has no plans to insert second-year tackle Mario Henderson. The good news for Oakland is Harris has been much more effective in home games. He'll need to be, because Abraham is thriving under Mike Smith's plan on having him play fewer snaps, keeping him fresh for speed rushes which are his strength. Abraham has seven sacks in seven games.

Falcons SS Lawyer Milloy vs. Raiders TE Zach Miller. Milloy remains a good leader and a physical presence in the secondary, but his primary function is to serve as a run-stopper. Miller was actually held without a reception in the third game of the season, only the second time in his first 17 games that happened, but ever since has caught 14 passes for an 18.1 average -- well above anything he did at a rookie. He also happens to be Russell's most trusted receiver in terms of reliability.

INJURY IMPACT: The combination of RB Darren McFadden's turf toe, which will make him either slowed or inactive, and the first start for Lawton at fullback means Oakland will likely use more empty backfield or single back sets and open up the game a little more for Russell through the air. If Burgess is out again, it puts Jay Richardson on the left side and means more snaps for Trevor Scott, who had two sacks against the Jets but as an undersized rookie end, couldn't handle the physicality of the Ravens and presents a target for the Atlanta running game and Michael Turner.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 30, 2008

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JaMarcus Russell Name: JaMarcus Russell
Position: QB
Age: 22
Experience: 2 years
College: LSU
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