By Sam McPherson
Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor was a limited participant in practice this week due to an ongoing knee problem, so for the second week in a row, former fourth-stringer Matt McGloin will get the nod for the Silver and Black — this time at home — as the Raiders try to solidify their slim postseason chances in Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans.
Pryor certainly isn’t at 100 percent, so any clichéd talk about starters never losing their job to injuries is premature in this case, but it does help McGloin’s case that he performed pretty well last weekend in the 28-23 win over the Houston Texans on the road.
However, McGloin may be without starter wide receiver Denarius Moore, who did not practice on Thursday due to his shoulder injury. It was reported yesterday by CSN Bay Area that Moore’s injury isn’t serious enough to require surgical repair, but the standout WR is questionable for Sunday’s game. If he is out, McGloin will miss his big frame as a target: Moore is averaging 15.4 yards per reception this year, and in a run-oriented offense, his downfield ability will be missed if he can’t go.
Running back Darren McFadden is listed as questionable, too, but he also did not practice on Thursday. At this point, his hamstring injury means he’s not even listed on the team’s depth chart heading into Sunday’s game, so once again, Rashad Jennings will be getting the start: the Raiders are content with Jennings, who has filled in excellently this season with 480 yards and a 5.2 average this year.
Oakland has some offensive line issues this week, as two starters on the right side — tackle Matt McCants and guard Mike Brisiel were limited in practice this week. They’re both expected to start, but in order for the line to protect McGloin and open up holes for Jennings, McCants and Brisiel will need to avoid aggravating any injuries on Sunday against the Titans.
Defensively, the Raiders finally gave up on cornerback D.J. Hayden’s groin injury and placed him on the injured reserve this week. This means Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins will be the starting corners against Tennessee and its backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 12.
The only other major concern on the defensive side for Oakland is defensive end Jason Hunter: he did not participate in practice this week but is expected to start on Sunday nonetheless. The 30-year-old veteran has two sacks and 19 total tackles this year, as well as one fumble recovery.
For the Titans, of course, they’ll be starting their backup QB with Jake Locker out for the year. Tennessee is a little dinged up on the offensive line as well: both starting center Brian Schwenke and starting right tackle David Stewart are banged up. Both are probable, but it could create opportunities for the Raiders defensive line — led by defensive end Lamarr Houston — to wreak havoc in the Titans backfield.
Defensively, the Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan, who has four sacks this year, is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, and on special teams, Tennessee kick return specialist Damian Williams, will not play as he recovers from a recent labral hip tear. If Oakland’s special teams is on the ball, the Raiders might be able to force a key turnover on return coverage — and that kind of miscue could tip the game in Oakland’s favor, as it looks to be a close one between two 4-6 teams looking to make a late push to the postseason.
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Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on Examiner.com.