By Dave Thomas
As the Oakland Raiders prepare to do battle this Sunday against AFC West rival the San Diego Chargers, the Silver and Black knows there is little margin for error.
So, what can the Raiders expect come Sunday from a team that is still dangerous—despite being in last place—yet has found more ways to blow games this season than just about anyone else?
If it is anything like past confrontations between these two old AFL rivals, expect a hard-fought game in the trenches, with either Derek Carr or Philip Rivers pushing their respective team to victory. Here are the key injuries that could impact the matchup.
Joseph Remains Out With Toe Injury
One of the major areas of concern for the Raiders over the last two weeks has been the health of starting QB Derek Carr.
Carr, who is having a solid season for the Silver and Black, injured the pinky on his throwing hand in a win over Buffalo earlier this month. He did play in Oakland’s 21-13 loss last Thursday evening (Dec. 8) in Kansas City, a game that gave the Chiefs a sweep of the season series.
The Raiders also listed six players as questionable per Friday’s injury report, with the two biggest names being wide receivers Amari Cooper (shoulder) and Michael Crabtree (finger). Between the two of them, they have combined for 144 catches and 11 touchdowns. If one or both can’t go come Sunday, look for Carr to go more to options, such as Seth Roberts (33 receptions, five TD’s) and Clive Walford (29 catches, two TD’s).
If Oakland’s receiving corps does seem a little depleted on Sunday, Carr can also turn to running back Latavius Murray (656 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns). Murray has also caught 29 balls for 228 yards.
Chargers Missing Gordon Among Others
For San Diego, this disappointing season has had more than its share of injury issues.
Star running back Melvin Gordon is listed as out (hip/knee issues) for Sunday’s game, meaning an already depleted Chargers’ rushing attack will be even more limited. Gordon, appearing in his second season out of Wisconsin, has rushed for 997 yards and 10 TD’s to date in 2016.
While Rivers is still running things under center on the offensive side of the ball, San Diego’s defense will need to prevent Carr and Co. from tallying 34 points again this time around. If Oakland can pretty much move at will, it should put this game away rather early.
- (WR) Amari Cooper (Shoulder) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (WR) Michael Crabtree (Finger) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (DT) Darius Latham (Ankle) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (G/T) Kelechi Osemele (Knee) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (LB) Perry Riley Jr. (Hamstring) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (LB) Malcolm Smith (Hamstring) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (LB) Shilique Calhoun (Knee) – Did Not Participate in Practice
- (S) Karl Joseph (Toe) – Did Not Participate in Practice
- (DT) Stacy McGee (Ankle) – Did Not Participate in Practice