By Sam McPherson
The defensive injuries continue for the 2014 Oakland Raiders as they prepare to take on the Miami Dolphins in a Week 4 matchup at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Linebacker Sio Moore has been ruled out, while fellow defenders in the middle—Miles Burris and Nick Roach—are listed as questionable.
The Dolphins have had their struggles on offense this season, but they have talent—and the Oakland defense has a recent history of making even marginal talent look like Pro Bowlers. If the Raiders aren’t at full strength on Sunday, it could be tough day for the Silver & Black on the European continent.
The one piece of good news for the Raiders on the injury front is the probably return of running back Maurice Jones-Drew to the offensive stable of horses to run the ball. The Dolphins are giving up more than 125 yards per game on the ground, and the Oakland offense will be much more effective if it can get all four backs involved in the game plan. Jones-Drew isn’t the star he used to be in Jacksonville, obviously, but his pass-catching ability provides a nice safety valve for rookie quarterback Derek Carr.
On the other hand, Carr will be without his No. 2 wideout, Rod Streater. He fractured his foot last Sunday against the New England Patriots, and he will miss four to five weeks once he has surgery. That may be a conservative estimate, as Head Coach Dennis Allen isn’t ruling out the possibility Streater could miss the whole season. That certainly could change the Raiders offensive outlook going forward.
One small note on the offense for the London game: backup quarterback Matt Schaub didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday and has been ruled out of Sunday’s game for personal reasons (non-injury). Matt McGloin will back up Carr on Sunday against Miami.
Defensively, as mentioned, the linebacking corps are weakened this week.
Moore (ankle) has been ruled out, and Burris (foot) was in a walking boot on Wednesday and missed practice—although he did limited work on Thursday. Today’s workouts will probably determine his Sunday fate. Roach still is recovering from concussion symptoms; he was a limited participant in both Wednesday and Thursday workouts.
The Oakland defense did a great job in Week Three against the Patriots offense—especially the running attack—and now they’ll need to do it again versus the Dolphins. Doing it without these three linebackers just makes it that more challenging, of course, although there’s still the outside shot Burris and Roach could play. But they obviously wouldn’t be close to 100% if they did.
Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa continues to be a limited participant in practice with a lingering knee issue. He registered four tackles in Week Two versus Houston, but Chekwa hasn’t been able to shake the injury bug in 2014 yet. With the Dolphins’ passing attack struggling this season with the inconsistent Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, hopefully this won’t impact the Raiders too negatively.
One other transaction on the injury front this week: saftey Tyvon Branch was placed on the season-ending, injury-reserve list with a foot injury. Usama Young will replace him at strong safety, but Oakland has a lot of money tied up in Branch—and he’s played in just five games since 2012.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (hand)
Linebacker Miles Burris (foot)
Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (knee)
Linebacker Nick Roach (concussion)
Safety Tyvon Branch (foot)
Linebacker Sio Moore (ankle)
Quarterback Matt Schaub (non-injury)
Wide receiver Rod Streater (foot)
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.