By Sam McPherson

Nine Oakland Raiders players either were unable to practice on Thursday or were limited in workouts yesterday. Their availability for Sunday’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs on the road puts in jeopardy the Silver & Black’s shot for a season sweep of their longtime AFC West rivals.

That’s right: nine players. Evidently, winning in the NFL can take its toll on a thin roster. After the Raiders beat the San Francisco 49ers last weekend—in what amounted to Oakland’s Super Bowl this year, really—it looks like the team may be a little hurting for the last three games. 

As if they weren’t struggling already, of course. This season has been a hard one for Oakland, with several players being placed on the season-ending injured reserve throughout the last three months.

The Chiefs themselves are in a downward spiral, however, losing three straight to fall almost entirely out of the AFC playoff picture—and missing their star safety Eric Berry, diagnosed with lymphoma recently. So neither team is going to be at its best on Sunday. 

For the Raiders, however, this is the only chance they have this season for a sweep of an opponent. The team wants its players on the field to see if they can make that accomplishment happen. But it will be hard with the following players banged up.

For instance, cornerback Tarell Brown hasn’t missed a game this year, but he hasn’t been able to workout this week with foot and ankle issues. Even though the Chiefs haven’t thrown a touchdown pass to a wide receiver this year, Oakland still needs its remaining “healthy” corners to play—and play well.

Corner Neiko Thorpe is a go for Sunday with his hand issues behind him, but safety Larry Asante is nursing two injuries: his shoulder and his quadriceps. He was able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday, but Asante then had to sit out Thursday’s workout—and that kind of regression is never a good sign.

On the topic of shoulder problems, three other Raiders also have the same affliction: cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, wide receiver Andre Holmes and defensive tackle Pat Sims. One really hopes the team hasn’t been lifting weights this late in the season to cause all those shoulder problems. Chekwa was limited in both Wednesday and Thursday workouts, as was Holmes. Meanwhile, Sims regressed like Asante did this week in practice.

Perhaps the best news of the week for the Raiders is this: Linebacker Sio Moore will play on Sunday, despite missing Wednesday workouts altogether and being limited with a hip issue on Thursday. His tweet about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been getting a lot of attention this week, and Moore doesn’t want to miss out on the fun against former S.F. QB Alex Smith this weekend in Kansas City now—not when his star is shining so brightly on the national scene.

Offensive tackle Menelik Watson also was unable to participate in both Wednesday and Thursday practices with ankle and foot problems. Tight end Brian Leonhardt still is out with concussion issues, as is wide receiver Denarius Moore (ankle)—who hasn’t played since the November 20 win over the Chiefs at the Coliseum.

Probable

  • Cornerback Neiko Thorpe (hand)

Questionable

  • Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (shoulder)
  • Wide receiver Andre Holmes (shoulder)
  • Linebacker Sio Moore (hip)

Doubtful

  • Safety Larry Asante (shoulder/quad)
  • Cornerback Tarell Brown (foot/ankle)
  • Defensive tackle Pat Sims (shoulder)
  • Offensive tackle Menelik Watson (foot/ankle)

Out

  • Tight end Brian Leonhardt (concussion)
  • Wide receiver Denarius Moore (knee/ankle)

For more Raiders news and updates, visit Raiders Central.

Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on a Examiner.com.

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