Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

November 10, 2008
Tackles preventing Miller time

ALAMEDA - The Raiders best passing threat is not being used effectively.

(Yes, this is a recording)

Tight end Zach Miller has been relegated to doing a lot of pass blocking lately.

Statistically, Miller is on pace for better season than his rookie campaign. He's the Raiders' leading receiver, but should be having a Pro Bowl season.

But with ineffective play by the Raiders' tackles, Miller will have to settle for being a good blocker and catching passes sometimes.

Miller by the numbers:

*Through nine games in 2007, Miller had 21 catches for 184 yards and a touchdown.

*Through nine games in 2008, Miller has 25 catches for 363 yards and a touchdown.

*Miller's 14.5 average per catch is second among tight ends with at least 20 cathces.

*His 25 catches are 12th among tight ends.

*His long reception of 63 yards is the second-best among tight ends.

*Miller is tied for second among tight ends with seven catches of 20 yards or more.

*52 percent of Miller's catches result in first downs. That's the only area that's keeping Miller from being an all-around elite tight end.

But that number is lower because on third downs, Miller is often blocking a team's best pass rusher.

Sunday he tangled with Julius Peppers a lot. This Sunday in Miami, Miller will have to deal with Joey Porter at some point.

For a team looking to jumpstart its offense, turning Miller loose would help. But Miller is basically being punished for being a good blocker.

"(Miller) has done a great job when he is in (blocking)," said interim head coach Tom Cable. "But you're also taking one of your better players out of the mix."

Cable is unhappy with the play at both tackle spots, which relegates Miller to being an extra tackle.

Cable intimated Mario Henderson could start at left tackle this week but said there's no one on the roster to replace Cornell Green at right tackle.

James Marten is the only other tackle on the active roster.

*Don't look for Ronald Curry to help out the offense anytime soon.

The Raiders will dress five receivers when they're all healthy. Right now, Curry is No. 6.

The Raiders don't score a lot and I figured why not let Curry play a little option quarterback?

The Raiders had Curry at quarterback for the "Wildcat" formation a week ago against Atlanta, but apparently Curry was just a fill-in.

" The plan there all week was Darren (McFadden)," Cable said. "We had practiced Darren in that package and invested in that package. So when it became apparent Thursday that Darren maybe wasn't gonna go, there'd been enough time invested in it that we needed an answer, and so we used Ronald that way. It's something... Again, there's a whole package there for No. 20 once he's healthy and once we get him going."

Cable added that Curry is a possession receiver (yep, slow) and that even though he excelled on third down in the past, there's not much Curry can do if it's third-and-18.

*Now for a look at special teams.

Johnnie Lee Higgins might have lost his job as a kick and punt returner.

He fumbled the opening kickoff, something Cable called a "disaster."

And he managed only 2.4 yards a punt return.

Rashad Baker and Michael Waddell could take over on punt returns. That duo, along with Michael Bush could assume kickoff duty.

Cable also might ask punter Shane Lechler to put a little more hang time on his punts because with Tyvon Branch out for the season, linebacker Ricky Brown injured and safeties Hiram Eugene and Baker playing more defense, the coverage teams aren't as good.

*The following players are "day-to-day" with their injuries:

McFadden (toe)
QB JaMarcus Russell (knee tendonitis, bone bruise)
QB Andrew Walter (ankle sprain)
WR Chaz Schilens (ankle sprain)

These players are "week-to-week" as of today:
Brown (groin)
DE Derrick Burgess (triceps)
C Jake Grove (calf)

John Wade will start in place of Grove.

Cable said there's a "chance" Burgess could play this week.

WR Javon Walker (ankle sprain) had an MRI today and more will be known Wednesday. He did finish the game Sunday.

--Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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