By Sam McPherson

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew and linebacker Nick Roach could miss the Oakland Raiders’ Week Two game against the Houston Texans at the Coliseum, and that’s not good news for the Silver & Black coming off the Week One loss in New York to the Jets.

MJD only posted 23 total yards in the defeat, but his presence in the backfield always makes a defense think twice about the play call. And Roach is the quarterback of a defense that struggled to contain the Jets consistently without him last Sunday.

So if Jones-Drew can’t recover from his hand injury—he had a procedure done on Monday—and Roach continues to struggle with concussion symptoms, it doesn’t bode well for the Raiders getting their first win of the season this weekend.

A long-term development for Oakland’s health is cornerback/kick returner Taiwan Jones. He suffered a knee injury in Week One, and he’s likely out for the next four-to-six weeks now. 

“I would imagine that he would be out for some time,” Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen clarified to CSN Bay Area this week. 

That does open up an opportunity for rookie running back Latavius Murray on special teams, however, even though Murray also will see more snaps on offense if MJD can’t go on Sunday.

(Jones-Drew wants to play, but he just might not be able to after not participating at all in practice on Wednesday and Thursday: perhaps Murray’s youthful spark could be more valuable to the Raiders offense at this point than the veteran’s experience and savvy.)

The Oakland running game was very bad in Week One: it totaled just 25 yards on 15 carries. Jones-Drew has 12 yards on 11 carries, while Darren McFadden had 15 yards on four carries. Murray didn’t get any carries. With or without the depth at the position, the team needs to do better than that to take pressure off rookie quarterback Derek Carr.

Defensively, the Raiders struggled against the Jets last week: yes, they forced two key turnovers in the first quarter and held the Jets to just 13 points through the middle of the fourth quarter, but New York averaged 6.2 yards per play. That can’t keep up for Oakland opponents if the team wants to win.

Roach’s replacement last week—Kaluka Maiava—had an undisclosed illness this week and missed Wednesday’s practice before limited participation on Thursday. He only made two tackles against the Jets last week, so if he’s on the field again, he’ll need to be better than that against the Texans.

And beyond Roach’s absence in the linebacking corps, the secondary also is thin: Jones provides depth, and cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (knee) missed last week’s game—he may once again be out this week, as he was limited in practice reps for Oakland.

Jets QB Geno Smith isn’t stellar, but the Raiders defense made him look very accurate—even the one interception he threw required an amazing effort by Oakland safety Charles Woodson. Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will be less error-prone than Smith, but the Raiders defense will still need to be better than it was to win on Sunday.

Probable:

  • Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (knee)

Questionable:

  • Linebacker Kaluka Maiava (illness)
  • Linebacker Nick Roach (concussion)
  • Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (hand)

Out:

  • Cornerback Taiwan Jones (knee)

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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