by Matt Kawahara
NAPA -- The Raiders had a few pieces back in place Sunday with running back Taiwan Jones, tight end Brandon Myers and punter Shane Lechler all returning from injuries.
Jones was practicing for the first time since Aug. 5, having missed two weeks with a hamstring injury. Head coach Dennis Allen said Jones looked "explosive," and joked that it's probably because Jones' legs are fresh from his hiatus.
Jones, who is still competing with Mike Goodson for the backup running back job, said he has been instructed by coaches to rein it in a little during practices to try to avoid future injuries.
"One of the biggest things that the coaches made sure they told me (was) I need to learn how to practice, meaning shutting it down when I need to and not trying to outrun everybody," Jones said. "Today that's what I just tried to work on. Not try to get too excited and do too much, just stay within myself."
Speaking of Goodson, who practiced Sunday after experiencing some shoulder weakness in Friday's preseason loss, Allen stated flatly that he has to do a better job of protecting the ball and that Goodson "understands that." Goodson lost two fumbles against Arizona.
Myers practiced for the first time since injuring his shoulder Aug. 10. He was mostly held out of team drills. Allen said the Raiders "wanted to get him out here and move around. He's a little sore, but I think he's going to be just fine." Asked if Myers could play Saturday against the Detroit Lions, Allen said: "I would hope so."
Lechler punted in practice with members of the media watching for the first time in the preseason Sunday. The seven-time Pro Bowler has been recovering from arthroscopic surgery performed shortly before the start of training camp, and said he felt a little "rusty. Of the 12 kicks I did, maybe one was acceptable."
Allen, for one, isn't worried. He said he's "anticipating" that Lechler will punt against Detroit. "He's a Hall of Fame type of punter," Allen said, "so I'm not real concerned about that."
* Jacoby Ford was wearing a protective boot on his left foot at practice. Allen said an MRI on Ford's foot showed no structural damage, but still wasn't ready to say whether the injury will keep Ford out of the regular-season opener Sept. 10.
"There's not any swelling, so in that regard that's a good thing," Allen said. "But it's just really a matter of pain right now."
* Linebacker Aaron Curry has rejoined the team after spending a week in Los Angeles getting treatment on his knees. He was running on the side during Sunday's practice, and Allen said the window is closing on the possibility of Curry being ready to start the opener against the Chargers. Right now that would leave rookie Miles Burris in line to be the Raiders' starting weakside linebacker.
"I don't know what that date is, but we're fast approaching that day where he's either going to be out here ready to go or he's not, because it's not a game where you just show up and play," Allen said of Curry. "You've got to get some work, you've got to get some practice. He needs some work. Whenever he's ready he'll get out here and start working, and we'll see when we can get him ready to play."
* Quarterback Matt Leinart (right index finger laceration) sat out most of Sunday's practice. Darrius Heyward-Bey (shoulder), Zach Hurd (head), Rashawn Jackson (hip), Denarius Moore (hamstring), Ed Wang (shoulder) and Stefen Wisniewski (calf) did not practice due to injury.
Also out were Manase Tonga, Michael Huff and Richard Seymour. Huff had left the team to attend the birth of his child and announced on Twitter this afternoon that "Madeline Rae Huff was born yesterday. Mama and Baby are happy and healthy." Allen said Seymour was given a recovery day.
To a lesser extent, so was the rest of the team. The Raiders did not practice in pads Sunday despite off-days Saturday and Monday.
"Because we had a short week last week, and I felt the team was a little sluggish, and I wanted to give them an opportunity to get regrouped," Allen said. "I didn't want to lose the timing. I wanted to get out here, get some work done today, they'll get the day off tomorrow and then be in a regular in-season mode the rest of the week."