5 Key Things To Watch As Raiders Host Jaguars
OAKLAND (CBS/AP) — Terrelle Pryor started taking snaps with the first-team offense about three weeks ago after spending most of training camp as Matt Flynn’s backup. Chad Henne has shuffled in and out of the starting lineup almost every year of his NFL career, and he began the regular season behind Blaine Gabbert.
Suddenly, both are starting — and it’s only Week 2.
That pretty much sums up the state of the Oakland Raiders (0-1) and Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) right now. Two of the NFL’s worst franchises the past few seasons are each counting on their quarterback to spark change, starting Sunday when Pryor and the Raiders host Henne and the Jaguars at the Oakland Coliseum.
Pryor beat out Flynn in training camp with some eye-popping plays and wowed with his arm and his legs in a 21-17 loss at Indianapolis in the season opener. He completed 19 of 29 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown — with two interceptions — and set a Raiders franchise record for rushing by a quarterback with 112 yards on 13 carries.
The former Ohio State standout will be making his third career start, second this season and first at home.
“It’s going to be electric this time instead of trying to quiet another team’s crowd,” Pryor said. “So I’ll feed off it and it’s just going to get me even more excited and it’s going to get me on my game.”
Henne, a second-round pick out of Michigan by the Miami Dolphins in 2008, is 14-23 as a starter. He’s back in the lineup because Gabbert sliced the back of his throwing hand on a defender’s facemask in the closing minutes of a 28-2 loss to Kansas City last week, when the offense managed a league-low 178 yards and no points.
It’s unlikely Henne will remain the starter when Gabbert returns. But he’s hoping a strong performance could give new Jaguars coach Gus Bradley something to consider.
“My job is to play as well as I can and hopefully just keep the job,” Henne said. “That’s how I’m going to play it. I’m going to prepare as the starter, play my best and show the coaches that I can get the job done.”
Here are five other things to look for when the Jaguars and Raiders play Sunday:
JONES-DREW’S HOMECOMING: Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, born in Oakland and raised in San Francisco’s East Bay, hasn’t had much success as an NFL player back home — or in his home time zone. He is 0-4 in West Coast games with a total of 41 carries for 146 yards and no TDs at Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle. Last season at Oakland, he injured his left foot on the first play of a 26-23 overtime loss. “I’m not talking to any of my family until after the game. How about that?” he joked.
MISSING MCFADDEN: The Raiders have depended on Darren McFadden the past few seasons and are hoping he returns to form soon, especially with Raiders coach Dennis Allen scrapping his preferred zone-blocking scheme for a straight-ahead, power-gap scheme after McFadden averaged a career-low 3.3 yards per carry last season. Oakland is 10-2 when McFadden rushes for at least 100 yards. He had 17 carries for just 48 yards and a TD in the season opener.
DEPLETED JAGUARS: Henne’s latest chance at quarterback comes amid concerns for Jacksonville’s offense. Top wide receiver Justin Blackmon is suspended the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Tight end Marcedes Lewis is considered a long shot to play because of a nagging left calf injury. And receivers Cecil Shorts III (groin) and Mike Brown (back) and linemen Uche Nwaneri (back) and Will Rackley (knee) all were limited or sat out a portion of practice this week.
OAKLAND’S O-LINE: The Raiders likely will shuffle the offensive line again. Rookie Menelik Watson was supposed to start the season in place of left tackle Jared Veldheer, who is on injured reserve with torn left triceps. But Watson is still nursing a left knee injury and is expected to miss his second straight game. Khalif Barnes shifted to left tackle against the Colts, and Tony Pashos — signed just two weeks ago — was at right tackle.
CALF CONCERN. The big left leg of Sebastian Janikowksi is fine. It’s his right calf that has some Raiders fans concerned. The usually reliable kicker missed a 48-yard field goal against Indianapolis, which forced Oakland to go for a touchdown on its final drive that ended with Pryor throwing an interception. Allen limited Janikowski’s kicking in practice but said he doesn’t think the injury is an issue.
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