By Sam McPherson
Now that the 2014 Oakland Raiders have won a game and ended one long losing streak, they can now focus on another one: winning two straight for the first time in a long time.
It’s been eight days since the Silver & Black beat the Kansas City Chiefs for their fist win of the season, and now as the Raiders prepare to face the St. Louis Rams on the road Sunday, the extra time off has helped some of the team’s injured players get healthier, for sure. But some key injuries still remain that could derail Oakland’s chances to put together back-to-back wins for the first since October 28, 2012.
Officially, the Raiders have seven players listed as questionable for Week 13, and even though that’s better than doubtful, it still doesn’t look good for a few players on the Silver & Black—including five members of the defensive backfield.
But first, Oakland has to be thinking primarily about running back Latavius Murray and the concussion he suffered against the Chiefs after running for 110 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries. Without him, the Raiders don’t win that game. So will he be ready for the Rams?
Murray was limited in workouts this week, still, and according to CBS Sports, “He must get cleared by an independent neurologist to play Sunday at St. Louis.” This could come down to a game-time decision, and that stinks for Oakland—because they’re not going to win without Murray performing at a high level.
To make matters worse for the Raiders offense, guard Gabe Jackson—who started the first eight games of the season as a rookie—also is questionable for the Rams game due to knee problems. He was a limited participant in practice this week as well.
The only positive injury new for the offense is that second-string tight end Brian Leonhardt (concussion) is probable this week after full participation in workouts Wednesday and Thursday.
Now, on to the defensive woes—and it’s all about the secondary: Three cornerbacks and two safeties are questionable for this week, and with the Rams’ woes at quarterback, maybe the Oakland defense can get away with these depth challenges.
Corners Carlos Rogers (knee) and Neiko Thorpe (hand) both did not practice this week, and that puts them in the most doubt for Sunday. Rogers hasn’t played since Week Eight now, so until he actually takes the field, don’t expect him to play. Thorpe registered two tackles against the Chiefs last week, so if he can’t play against St. Louis, it just makes the cornerback position even thinner.
T.J. Carrie—another corner man, as well as a kick returner when healthy—couldn’t go against Kansas City last week, and after limited workouts this week, maybe Carrie sees the field with his dubious ankle against the Rams. The Raiders just might need him to play, all things considered at the position.
Finally, two safeties—Larry Asante (shoulder) and Jonathan Dowling (back)—were limited in practice on Thursday, so their respective availability is still up in the air for Sunday, too. Even though the Raiders spent less than half the game on defense against the Chiefs a week ago and they’ve had the extra days of rest, it will be hard for an old guy like safety Charles Woodson to keep up a high level of play with such a thin depth chart.
- Safety Larry Asante (shoulder)
- Cornerback T.J. Carrie (ankle)
- Safety Jonathan Dowling (back)
- Guard Gabe Jackson (knee)
- Running back Latavius Murray (concussion)
- Cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee)
- Cornerback Neiko Thorpe (hand)
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.