Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

December 18, 2008
Shuffling the wide receivers

ALAMEDA - The Raiders wide receivers had a gift exchange for Christmas today.

The problem was half the group had to be called in to make it work.

"We've been having five guys in the meeting room," said wide receivers coach James Lofton. "And so we went and got the other five guys out of the training room and there were 10 guys in the room. It's kind of different. There's definitely some talent amongst the guys who are in the training room right now. I think everybody's excited about what they can do in the future."

One of the big "what ifs" about the Raiders season has been what the offense would have looked like if not for injuries at wide receiver.

Javon Walker, Drew Carter, Arman Shields are all on injured reserve. Ashley Lelie and Ronald Curry are nursing injuries and are expected to miss this Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.

If not for injuries the Raider receivers would have been:

Walker
Carter
Shields
Curry
Johnnie Lee Higgins
More than likely Chaz Schilens makes the roster, too. With a healthy Carter, the team probably doesn't sign Lelie.

But at this point of the season the Raiders will play the Texans with:

Higgins
Schilens
Jonathan Holland
Todd Watkins

Holland was on injured reserve all of last season and spent this season on the practice squad before joining the active roster Dec. 4 against San Diego.

Watkins impressed in training camp and snagged the roster spot that would have been Carter's after he tore his ACL in the preseason.

The four receivers that will play Sunday have a chance to make an impression and get a start on making next season's team.

"I think it's great for their development because it's one thing to sit in a classroom and do something," Lofton said. "It's one thing to do it on the practice field and to do it in the offseason. But to get a chance to make your mark in a game, to do some things well, to improve on some things, to do some things and go, 'I can't believe I did that' or 'I can't believe I screwed that up,' it's invaluable experience."

Lofton is as hard on his players as any coach on the Raiders staff. He said the quartet that will play is ready and that injuries or a lack of time with JaMarcus Russell on the field won't be excuses to mess up.

"These guys they've been very attentive during the year," he said. "They've been a real studious group. So I think that they're ready to step up. They study hard, they're diligent in they're preparation so I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited about the opportunity."

*FB Luke Lawton (concussion), TE Zach Miller (shoulder) and DT Tommy Kelly (knee) were limited in practice but are expected to be OK for Friday's practice.

Curry (turf toe), Lelie (calf strain) and LB Ricky Brown (groin) did not practice today. That trio is not expected to play on Sunday.

Brown has missed the last seven games.

--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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