By Sam McPherson
It’s been almost two weeks since we last saw the Oakland Raiders on the field in London, England, and that wasn’t a pretty sight. The team lost to the Miami Dolphins, and there were new injuries to go along with all the old ones.
That’s why the NFL has bye weeks, and the Silver & Black have gotten a lot healthier since Week Four.
Just in time, too, as the San Diego Chargers come to town this Sunday to face the Raiders at the Coliseum, and the Oakland defense will need all the healthy players it has in order to hang in there with the Bolts.
There only are five players on the official injury report this week, although the team did have to place linebacker Kaluka Maiava on the season-ending injured reserve this week with a hamstring injury. Maiava aggravated the muscle in training camp, and he never really got healthy after being pressed into starting duty thanks to all the injuries to the linebacking corps.
After signing a three-year deal prior to 2013, Maiava also went on the season-ending IR last year. This means the Raiders will have gotten only 13 games from him in two years now, and that stings as an investment in player personnel, of course.
Starting right offensive tackle Khalif Barnes is doubtful, as he’s missed practices this week with a quad injury. If he can’t go, Menelik Watson is healthy now, and he would get the start in Barnes’ place. The Chargers defense is the “lesser” of the team’s units, but the Raiders still need good OL play to get their own offense going.
The other four players on the injury report all are listed as questionable: quarterback Derek Carr, cornerback Keith McGill, linebacker Sio Moore and running back Marcel Reece.
Carr suffered multiple injuries in London, and new Head Coach Tony Sparano has committed to the rookie at the helm of the offense for the rest of the season. Carr was limited in practice this week, so even if he does start, there’s a chance backup Matt Schaub will see the field now that he’s back with the team after the extremely premature birth of his child a few weeks ago.
McGill is a third-string corner, and after limited participation in practice on Wednesday, he did not take the field on Thursday. There’s a chance he won’t be available on Sunday against San Diego.
Moore has been struggling in 2014 with injuries, and he was limited in practice this week. The good news is Nick Roach should be good to go for the Raiders, but if Moore is still out, then Oakland’s defense still isn’t anything close to full strength.
Reece’s quad has kept him limited in workouts this week, too. If he can’t go on Sunday, backup fullback Jamize Olawale could see some action. Reece has been underutilized this year, without only nine touches total. But it’s hard to use him when the Raiders have been trailing in every game, almost right from the start.
With the early bye week, this could be the healthiest the team will be all year; let’s see if that makes a difference in the results on Sunday against the Chargers.
Quarterback Derek Carr (ankle, knee)
Cornerback Keith McGill (groin)
Linebacker Sio Moore (ankle)
Running back Marcel Reece (quad)
Offensive tackle Khalif Barnes (quad)
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.