Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

November 13, 2008
Who replaces Walker?

ALAMEDA - Normally when a team's top receiver goes down, the question becomes who will get the balls that were normally aimed at him.

But with the Raiders, it's not that simple.

It's not as if Raider receivers not named Javon Walker have had passes thrown to them a lot.

Walker said he's out for the season and the NFL Network reported Walker would have surgery on Friday because the bone is separated at the ankle.

In the last two games no Raiders receiver has a catch other than Walker.

It wouldn't seem like 15 catches for 196 yards and a touchdown would be hard to replace. But if you've seen the Raiders on offense this season, you could see why it would be tough to replace.

The Raiders have two vets that have been forgotten (Ronald Curry, Ashley Lelie) and three youngsters (Chaz Schilens, Johnnie Lee Higgins and Todd Watkins) left at receiver.

Lelie will be the starter in place of Walker. Curry was inactive last week. Schilens is dealing with an ankle injury. Higgins' biggest role has been special teams while Watkins, the star of training camp, had been inactive until the last two games.

*There's finally some good news for the Raiders' offense, because Darren McFadden feel's good.

He said he's fine wearing the specially made Nike cleats to help with his turf toe.

"It feels good to be able to go out there and run and not have pain feel like you're doing you," McFadden said.

Cable said McFadden is "ready to go."

He and quarterback JaMarcus Russell (knee) are expected to play Sunday in Miami.

"He was good today," Cable said of Russell. "He was much better and took the majority of reps in practice."

*Andrew Walter (ankle) didn't practice making it likely Marques Tuiasosopo would be Russell's backup.

Fatigue was the reason defensive end Derrick Burgess (triceps) sat out practice. He might not be ready until next weekend so that he can be 100 percent and not be limited to being a situational player.

"This injury, you gotta be right to do it," Cable said. "Otherwise it could tear and it's done, you gotta have surgery to fix it."

*Center Jake Grove (calf) and linebacker Ricky Brown did not practice. They'll be replaced by John Wade and Sam Williams as starters, respectively.

Safety Gibril Wilson (back) was limited in practice.

*Kick returner Justin Miller practiced and could take over that job from Higgins as early as Sunday.

He's averaged 27.1 yards on kickoffs in his career with three touchdowns.

Miller, however, has only three kickoff returns since his Pro Bowl season of 2006 after going down with a knee injury after two games in 2007.

Miller appeared in one game for the Jets this season and had a kickoff return of 22 yards.

Miller's injury cost him his job to Leon Washington. Miller was inactive when the Jets played in Oakland Oct. 19.

"It's been a very consistent team as a special teams unit," Miller said of the Raiders. "We studied them coming in before when we came out here to Oakland and played. We knew then it was a successful unit out there and they played together and they played well. I think any time a team plays together and they play well, then they feed off each other. One positive play turns into a whole lot of positive plays, and that's the main thing. As long as you can get going as a special teams unit, you can make things happen, and a lot of good things will come form it."

Cable said he liked Miller's explosiveness and that he had some "wiggle" to him.

Miller said he doesn't have a "style" of returning kicks.

"At the end of the day, I try to score," he said. "I think that's what anybody tries to do. If you ask any kick returner, I don't think anybody will tell you, I'm just going to give you straight speed, or I'm going to give you power, or I'm going to cut back or I'm going to bounce it out. I think any returner is going to tell you that they want to score at the end of the day and that's the main objective. I think any player on the team, any person on the team will tell you, we scored on kick returns, so we're happy at the end of the day."

Dec. 28, 2003 was the last time the Raiders scored on a kickoff return. The team needs help with Tyvon Branch out for the season and Higgins' inconsistent play.

"He was looking for a fresh start and obviously we have a great need there," Cable said. "And he's excited, we're excited. Watching him today was very exciting."

*Cable said while head coach at Idaho, he also coached the offensive line and called plays on offense.

Getting used to doing that again forced Cable to use timeouts early.

"It was a little bit like getting back in rhythm," Cable said. "Really by the middle of the second quarter I thought I was fine and ready to go from there. So it's just kind of getting back to it."

*Cable said pass protection is the biggest reason the Raiders have converted just 22.4 percent of their third downs.

He'll announce who will start at left tackle Friday after letting Kwame Harris and Mario Henderson compete for the job. One of them will have to deal with the Dolphins' Joey Porter, one of the NFL's best pass rushers.

--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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