Despite losing some superstar starters, Raiders still confident about future matchups
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/29/2012 -- The Oakland Raiders may have lost starters Shawntae Spencer and Khalif Barnes on the heels of a demoralizing 35-13 loss at the hands of the Dolphins last week.
Spencer sustained a right foot sprain, while Barns is nursing a groin injury in Sunday’s matchup. “Those are two guys who could miss some time,” said Raiders coach Dennis Allen in a media briefing.
Spencer was sporting crutches after suffering an injury in the final quarter of play. Spencer was unsure of how long the injury will shelve him, saying “We’ll see tomorrow.” The loss of Spencer could seriously hinder the already ailing Oakland defense, leaving them with backups at both cornerback positions. Ron Bartell is the other injured secondary defender, and will likely be missing until late October.
The Raiders have a severe lack of credible options at cornerback. With two backups already on tap for starting positions, they are left with Phillip Adams and Coye Francies as reserves with limited experience. Oakland’s fourth-round pick from 2011, Chmidi Chekwa may be activated from the practice squad if necessary.
This level of need may force Reggie McKenzie to consider visiting free-agent corners who are seeking work after not making squads in the offseason. Safety Michael Huff may in fact be called to play cornerback in a more permanent role, as he has experience at the position in limited packages. This would allow Matt Giordano to be given additional playing time at the then-vacant safety position.
“We’re going to look at the personnel that we have,” Allen said. “We’re going to look if there’s anybody out there that we feel like can help us.”
Next week will be a hefty challenge for defensive coaches to prepare for. With a depleted and mix-matched secondary, there are only days to prepare what could look like a whole new coverage package when the Raiders host a sturdy Pittsburgh Steelers squad.
On the offensive side, Oakland incurred yet another injury as Right Tackle Barnes who is also out for next week’s game. Will Smith took the vacancy on the right side against Miami after arriving from Washington. “I thought he did some good things,” Allen said. “We’ll continue to work with him. I feel like he’s somebody that we can work with that can get better.”
Allen has taken the step of having the entire team sit in when watching film. This instead of the usual breaking into position or package groups to watch tape. “I just felt like it was a good thing for us to get together and look at it as a team and see where we’ve got to make improvements so we don’t let these things happen again,” Allen said
Left tackle Jared Veldheer said of the situation, “There’s a sense of urgency — all the guys are depending on me to make this block or execute this play. I need to do it. How do I fix it? That kind of mentality.”
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