Denver and Oakland musings

October, 8, 2008
10/08/08
10:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

I have a few random thoughts on some happenings this week in the AFC West:

There is a push in Denver to make Michael Pittman the primary running back. Pittman gained some tough yardage in the Broncos' win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Is he ready to be the primary back? I'm not so sure. I think, for the time being, Denver needs to keep up its recent trend of giving Pittman, Selvin Young and Andre Hall all carries. If one of the three is hotter than the rest, stick with him. All three players give the team different elements.

Young can be a game breaker. Pittman gets tough yardage and Hall is somewhere in the middle. Gaining yardage on the ground could be paramount in the next couple of games before the bye. Denver hosts Jacksonville on Sunday and then goes to New England for a Monday night game on Oct. 20.

Rookie receiver Eddie Royal has a sprained ankle and tight end Tony Scheffler has a groin injury. There is a strong chance both player will miss a game or two. Royal and Scheffler are two of Denver quarterback Jay Cutler's favorite targets along with receivers Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley. So, Denver may need to run the ball better.

The Denver running game landscape could change after the bye. The team expects rookie Ryan Torain to return as soon as Nov. 2 against Miami when the team returns from the bye. Torain, who broke his elbow in early August, may return to practice next week. The team is very high on him.

Meanwhile, in Oakland, running back Justin Fargas is expected to return Sunday at New Orleans. He has missed the past two games with a groin injury. With rookie running back Darren McFadden still dealing with a turf toe, the Raiders will need Fargas to grind out some tough yardage in the Superdome.

Also, Fargas will come back to a new-look Oakland offense. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will be the primary play caller in the wake of the firing of Lane Kiffin as head coach. Offensive line coach Tom Cable replaced Kiffin and he will have final call but Knapp will be the play caller.

Raiders owner Al Davis said during his infamous news conference last week that Knapp was the primary play caller against San Diego on Sept. 28. Davis said Kiffin was the primary play caller the Raiders' first three games.

Knapp is a solid coach and he knows what he is doing. There are rumblings out of Oakland that Knapp will open up the play book and take advantage of quarterback JaMarcus Russell's cannon arm more than Kiffin did. It will be interesting see how much the Oakland offense changes Sunday in Cable's first game.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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