It has been a busy week for the Raiders despite having been all but eliminated from the playoffs last Sunday. Running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson returned to practice after having missed the last three weeks due to injury. Rolando McClain is on his way out. And Terrelle Pryor might just see time at quarterback. In all, its an exciting time to follow the Raiders.
Reece to continue seeing carries
The Raiders have been in desperate need of running game as of late. Since 2008, they have had a running back eclipse 100 yards on the ground only 21 times. Of those games, the Raiders have won 16. They are just 18-38 in the games the Raiders failed to reach 100 yards.
Marcell Reece’s 100 yard performance against the Saints was the last of it’s kind since November of 2011. With Reece in the backfield, the Raiders average 4.0 yards per carry, without him the average drops to just 3.2, third worst in the league.
Despite the expected return of Darren McFaddden and Mike Goodson, this drastic uptick in production prompted head coach Dennis Allen to commit to using Reece as a halfback, instead of his traditional role as fullback. ”Marcel has earned the right to carry the ball some,” Allen said. “We’ll use him in that capacity.”
As they should, Reece has been drastically better than Darren McFadden. Reece is averaging 3.56 yards after contact per attempt (which puts in the Adrian Peterson range), while McFadden averaged only 1.96. Reece also has two rushes of 15+ yards despite only 48 attempts. McFadden has had five of such rushes on 139 attempts. Marcell is clearly the better running back.
Omar Gaither to start at middle linebacker, Rolando McClain to start looking at “Help Wanted” ads
It has been a weird couple of days for Rolando McClain followers. On Wednesday, McClain wrote on his Facebook wall that he was no longer a member of the Raiders. But apparently this wasn’t true.
Despite much speculation that he would be cut, McClain in fact was not. He was, however, suspended for two games for what Allen called “team related issues.” The issues haven’t been released, but some have speculated that it was the result of a heated exchange between McClain and Allen.
Whatever the cause, the effect is that Omar Gaither, who has been an Oakland Raider for only two weeks, will start at middle linebacker. A six year veteran, Gaither hasn’t started a game since 2010, when he started four games for the Carolina Panthers.
Filling McClain’s shoes might not be all that difficult, depending on who you ask. Yesterday, NFL Films’ Greg Cosell called McClain “arguably the worst starting 4-3 middle linebacker in the NFL.” Pro Football Focus, however, disagrees. According to PFF’s game charting, McClain records a defensive stop on 11% of his snaps, which ranks him in the top ten among middle linebackers. Still, McClain’s absence probably won’t hurt a team that has lost their last four games by a combined 90 points.
Terrelle Pryor to definitely see playing time this Sunday
According to Bay Area News Group’s Monte Poole, Pryor will see his first action of the season. As to how exactly Pryor will be featured is anybody’s guess. I speculated earlier this week that we could see him in role similar to that filled by the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. However they decide to use him, the Raiders’ offense should at least be more entertaining with him on the field. I hope so, anyway.