AFC West: Jason Hunter

ALAMEDA, Calif. – Strong safety Tyvon Branch practiced Wednesday for the first time since breaking his right leg against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 15.

Might he also play for the Oakland Raiders this coming Sunday at the New York Jets?

“If he’s healthy enough to play, he’ll play,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said.

“Anytime you lose a player of Tyvon’s ability and the way that he plays the game and he stands for the things that we believe in here and the way that he takes care of his business, that’s a tough guy to replace. … I thought he moved around pretty well today. Just getting him back on the field, I think, is a big boost to, obviously to him, but to all of us.”

Branch said he was still on the road to recovery.

“I came a long way,” said Branch, a fourth-round draft pick in 2008. “I feel a lot better, I feel a lot more confident in my leg. It's getting strong.

“If my leg holds up I can make an impact. That's part of my game -- coming in and making plays. So if I have a chance to come out and make some plays, I want to do that.”

Said fullback Marcel Reece: “It feels good to have my guy back. We’re like the 'Last of the Mohicans' here.”

Indeed, only placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, long snapper Jon Condo and running back Darren McFadden have been with the Raiders longer than Branch and Reece.

Meanwhile, defensive end Jason Hunter, who has missed the past two games with a foot injury, returned to practice, though receiver Denarius Moore, also sidelined the past two games, was a no-go.

The following is the Raiders’ injury report for Wednesday:

Did not participate: RG Mike Brisiel (knee), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs/calf), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), S Usama Young (neck)

Limited practice: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), LB Miles Burris (toe), DE Jason Hunter (foot), Rashad Jennings (concussion), OT Menelik Watson (illness)
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders ruled four players out of Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans in leading receiver Denarius Moore, defensive end Jason Hunter, running back Darren McFadden and strong safety Tyvon Branch.

Moore
Moore injured his shoulder in Houston last weekend and he did not practice this week.

“There’s an injury there,” said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. “It’s a painful injury and once that kind of calms down a little bit, I think he’s of the nature and of the mindset that he’ll be able to battle through it.”

It will be the first game Moore will miss this season. He has 37 receptions for 569 yards and five touchdowns. Andre Holmes will start in Moore's place.

Hunter, meanwhile, has excelled in setting the edge in the team’s run defense. He also has two sacks.

McFadden
McFadden, meanwhile, will be missing his third straight game since re-aggravating his right hamstring against Philadelphia on Nov. 3. It will be his fourth game missed due to injury in this, his contract year. McFadden has never played more than 13 games in his six-year career and, with this weekend, will have missed 17 of Oakland’s last 36 games.

The Raiders are also monitoring the health of quarterback Terrelle Pryor" target="_blank">Terrelle Pryor’s right knee. If he is healthy enough to play, he will serve as Matt McGloin’s backup against the Titans.

Following, then, is the Raiders’ status report for Sunday:

Out: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), DE Jason Hunter (foot), RB Darren McFadden (right hamstring), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder).

Questionable: WR Juron Criner (right shoulder), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs), DT Daniel Muir (knee), QB Terrelle Pryor (knee)

Probable: RG Mike Brisiel (ankle/knee), WR Andre Holmes (hamstring), RT Matt McCants (toe)

WR Moore misses practice again

November, 21, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Denarius Moore, with 37 catches for 569 yards, has an outside shot at becoming the Oakland Raiders' first 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss in 2005.

Moore
Instead, Moore, is more likely to miss this weekend’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Moore, nursing a sore shoulder, missed his second straight practice this week, along with defensive end Jason Hunter, running back Darren McFadden, and strong safety Tyvon Branch.

“Several guys need to step up,” said Raiders coach Dennis Allen, in the event Moore is unable to play. “It will give Brice Butler another opportunity, Andre Holmes would be a guy that would be able to step in there, Jacoby Ford. Those guys would have to step up for us in the passing game.

“Next man up. Somebody’s going to have to step up and perform.”

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, now the backup to Matt McGloin, “moved around well” on his sprained right knee, Allen said.

“Hopefully he’s healthy enough to go,” Allen said, “and if he is, he’ll be up on Sunday.”

And if Hunter cannot play, Allen mentioned the likes of defensive tackle Vance Walker and defensive ends Ryan Robinson and Brian Sanford as potential replacements.

Also, Allen said he watched some of strong safety Tyvon Branch's side workout Thursday.

“He moved around better today,” Allen said. “His football-related activity has increased, so he’s another guy that I’m hoping that is getting pretty close.”

There were no changes in the Raiders’ injury report from the day before. Following, then, is the Raiders’ injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), DE Jason Hunter (foot), RB Darren McFadden (right hamstring), Denarius Moore (shoulder)

Limited practice: RG Mike Brisiel (ankle/knee), WR Juron Criner (right shoulder), WR Andre Holmes (shoulder), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs), RT Matt McCants (toe), DT Daniel Muir (knee), QB Terrelle Pryor (knee)

Five Raiders need MRIs

November, 18, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While five Oakland Raiders players had to take MRI exams Monday, only one result was known by the time of coach Dennis Allen’s weekly news conference.

Right guard Mike Brisiel left the Raiders’ 28-23 victory at the Houston Texans on Sunday with a knee injury, but Allen said the MRI came back clean.

“He should be fine,” Allen said.

Receivers Andre Holmes, who caught one pass for 33 yards but had another long diving grab ruled out of bounds, and Denarius Moore, who was the recipient of quarterback Matt McGloin's first NFL touchdown pass, a five-yarder, both had injured shoulders and were awaiting their results. Same with defensive end Jason Hunter, who injured a foot, and defensive tackle Daniel Muir, who had a knee injury.

“We’ll have an update on all those guys basically on Wednesday,” Allen said.

Allen gave the players the day off Monday.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Terrelle Pryor (concussion) was a limited participant in practice Friday, and the Raiders quarterback is officially questionable to play Sunday against Washington.

Also questionable to play are left guard Lucas Nix (ankle) and left defensive end Jason Hunter (quad).

Raiders coach Dennis Allen said if Hunter, who is tied for the team lead with two sacks, cannot play, Brian Sanford would start in his place. It would be a game-time decision, Allen said.

As for the rest of Oakland’s injury/status report: rookie linebacker Sio Moore (concussion), fullback Jamize Olawale (ankle) and cornerback Tracy Porter (concussion) are all probable. Strong safety Tyvon Branch (ankle) and rookie left tackle Menelik Watson (knee) are both out.

Watson, who reportedly underwent knee surgery before the season opener, was working on the side with a trainer at the start of practice, along with second-year linebacker Miles Burris (knee), who is on the PUP list.

Allen said he hoped Watson would begin practicing next week.

Pryor, Olawale upgraded for Raiders

September, 26, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. – Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor eventually put on his helmet and took some reps during practice Thursday, but he was listed as a limited participant three days after suffering a concussion and 24 hours after not practicing.

Pryor
Pryor's availability for Sunday’s home game against Washington remains in question, though.

“There’s still some hurdles that he has to clear, but he was cleared to go ahead and [participate] in a non-contact practice,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said.

Earlier, during the media window, Pryor was on the field without a helmet.

Fullback Jamize Olawale (ankle) also was upgraded, from limited practice to full, though starting left defensive end Jason Hunter (quad) missed his second straight practice.

The rest of the Raiders' injury report: linebacker Sio Moore (concussion), left guard Lucas Nix (ankle) and cornerback Tracy Porter (concussion) were limited, while left tackle Menelik Watson (knee) and strong safety Tyvon Branch (ankle) did not participate.

Helmet-less Pryor a practice observer

September, 26, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor was an observer during the 30-minute media window of practice Thursday as he participated in stretch and shadowed drills.

But he was not wearing a helmet.

Pryor, who suffered a concussion late in Monday night’s loss at Denver, was on his way to take a concussion test Wednesday afternoon that would clear him to practice if he passed. He said at the time he thought he could play Sunday against Washington if he was able to practice by Friday.

Matt Flynn continued to take first-team reps, though Raiders coach Dennis Allen would not say when he’d have to make a decision on his starter. He did say, however, he did not anticipate making a public announcement about the starter before the game.

Also missing from the beginning of practice was defensive end Jason Hunter, who missed practice Wednesday with a quad injury.

Raiders sport variety pack in pass rush

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning looks over the Raiders' defense Monday night, he will be looking at a group that has gotten the bulk of its sacks from guys wearing jerseys with numbers in the 20s on the front.

The Raiders have nine sacks this season, and the team’s defensive backs have five. When the Broncos go to the three-wide look, which they most often do when they have the ball, it will put the Broncos' running backs on the spot in pass protection. That's especially true when the Raiders add a player or two to the rush from off the line of scrimmage.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Dustin Bradford/Getty ImagesThe Broncos know pass protection will be crucial against the Raiders.
The Broncos backs have worked plenty this week on different scenarios to know who to pick up when those defensive backs arrive in the rush after the initial surge following the snap.

“They do a good job of freeing guys up,’’ said Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase. “ … We just better be on whatever blockings assignments we have. If one guy’s on the wrong page, we’ve got an issue.’’

It also won’t be a matter of simply sliding the protection to the rusher doing to the most damage, either. The Raiders have nine sacks distributed among seven players. Defensive end Jason Hunter has two to lead the way, and cornerback Tracy Porter (both are former Broncos) has 1.5.

“When you have multiple DBs on the field, you have multiple DBs rushing,’’ said Broncos coach John Fox. “ … They do do a lot of that.’’

Manning was not sacked last weekend against the Giants after being sacked three times in the season opener against the Ravens.

  • Broncos guard Chris Kuper practiced fully for the second consecutive day Friday. The eighth-year veteran has spent roughly a year and a half battling back from a dislocated ankle he suffered in the 2011 regular-season finale, as well as the multiple surgeries and infection that followed. Kuper has been a gameday inactive in the Broncos' first two games this season, but Fox said following Friday’s practice that Kuper continues to close in on being game-ready. “He’s doing well, he’s getting better every day … when he stops having soreness and is able to put a whole week together, he could even be in the mix this week,’’ Fox said. Given Kuper’s versatility -- he worked sparingly at center in training camp and the Broncos consider him a stop-gap option there, he will almost certainly be in the mix at tackle as well moving forward. With left tackle Ryan Clady on injured reserve, the Broncos will have to address depth issues at the position. After current starter Chris Clark, they do not have a player who has predominantly been a left tackle in the NFL on the depth chart. Winston Justice, signed Wednesday, has been a right tackle for most of this career. Zane Beadles was a left tackle at Utah in his college career and played some tackle early in his career with the Broncos before being moved inside to guard. Fox has said repeatedly he wants to work guards like Beadles and Kuper at tackle from time to time, so they could play there at game speed if needed.

  • Broncos’ guard Louis Vasquez has been one of the least penalized players in the league in his career -- he was not flagged for a penalty in either of the 2011 or 2012 seasons with the Chargers. But he was flagged for a false start in the opener against the Ravens. He did not have one of the 13 penalties the Broncos were assessed against the Giants this past Sunday. The Broncos had eight of those penalties against New York called on defensive backs, several of which the Broncos challenged with the league’s officiating department this week in their weekly review. Before the opener, Vasquez’ last penalty had been a false-start penalty on a field-goal attempt Oct. 24, 2010, against the Patriots. The only other time Vasquez had been flagged in his career was for holding in Week 6 of his rookie season (2009), but the penalty was declined.

  • Safety Rahim Moore, who was flagged for unnecessary roughness for a sideline hit on Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks this past Sunday, was not fined for the play. Many of the Broncos players, because Moore had made first contact with Nicks with his shoulder, didn’t believe the play even warranted a penalty.

  • Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio on whether or not a running quarterback like the Raiders' Terrelle Pryor keeps him up at night more than a traditional drop-back passer; “I don’t like giving quarterbacks too much credit, but they all keep us up.’’

  • Raiders guard Lucas Nix was limited in the team’s practice Friday because of an ankle injury. If Nix cannot play Monday night, former University of Colorado offensive lineman Andre Gurode figures to get the start at left guard.

Links: Moore rises to Allen's challenge

August, 2, 2013
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Denver Broncos

The team has opened negotiations to give punter Britton Colquitt a contract extension, writes Mike Klis of the Denver Post. Colquitt had a net average of 42.1 yards per punt and he placed 27 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line last season.

Brandon Moree of DenverBroncos.com has highlights from Day 8 of training camp.

Cornerback Champ Bailey knows a position switch to safety is in his future, writes the AP's Eddie Pells. "You’ve got to look at history," Bailey said. "Ronnie Lott. Rod Woodson. Aeneas Williams. They all did it, and they all did it before I did. History says this is about that time. I understand that and I’m not naive about it."

Kansas City Chiefs

In an effort to lose weight, nose tackle Dontari Poe has given up barbecue, writes Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star. "It might be the hardest thing I’ve had to do since I’ve been here," said Poe.

Receiver Jon Baldwin, a first-round pick in 2011, has been plagued by dropped passes early on in camp, the AP reports.

The Chiefs made a few roster moves Thursday, adding offensive tackle Mike Tepper and cornerback Kamaal McIlwain.

Oakland Raiders

"Setting the edge" isn't the most glamorous part of a defensive end's job, but it's a task that suits Oakland's Jason Hunter just fine, writes Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. "Basically, setting an edge is getting an extension on that tackle and knocking him back, that way it stops the line of scrimmage so the (running) back can't just get to the edge, and it forces him back inside to where the help is," Hunter said.

Tracy Porter says he's moved past having his jersey number taken away from him and given to Charles Woodson, writes Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com. "The jersey situation is what it is," Porter said. "It got some attention because I spoke out about it. I didn’t like the way it was handled, but whatever man. I’m not going to leave camp because my jersey number was switched."

After coach Dennis Allen said Tuesday that the team didn't have a go-to receiver yet, Denarius Moore rose to the challenge. On Thursday, Moore had a great day of practice and earned praise from Allen, who said Moore "clearly responded to the challenge,” writes Bair.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers' defensive line has lots of potential, but it is definitely short on experience, writes U-T San Diego's Kevin Acee.

U-T San Diego's Chris Jenkins takes a look at tight end John Phillips, who signed as a free agent after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Dallas Cowboys. "I was just looking for something new, looking to establish myself,” said Phillips. “Hopefully, I can get out here and be more versatile in this offense. Maybe I can carve out a role for myself where I can catch more balls."

Running back Ronnie Brown thinks he can make some waves in coach Mike McCoy's offense, writes Ricky Henne of Chargers.com. McCoy "offers me opportunities to do some different things besides just running the ball," Brown said. "He accentuates the things you’re good at, so I’m going to be involved in the passing game and get to show my versatility as a back, what I’m capable of doing and what I’m comfortable doing."
Our AFC West positional rankings series continues with a look at a young group of defensive linemen:

1. Corey Liuget, San Diego: This player has a chance to be a superstar.

2. Lamarr Houston, Oakland: A lot will be expected of this talented player on a line in transition.

3. Derek Wolfe, Denver: The Broncos are expecting huge things from this second-year player.

4. Kendall Reyes, San Diego: The same thing goes for Reyes in San Diego. He has great potential.

5. Terrance Knighton, Denver: Jack Del Rio is reunited with this run stuffer. Terrific free-agent addition.

6. Dontari Poe, Kansas City: I wouldn’t be shocked if this player makes a huge jump in Year 2.

7. Sylvester Williams, Denver: The first-round pick has huge potential. He is a good fit for this defense.

8. Tyson Jackson, Kansas City: Former No. 3 overall pick will never be great, but he has value.

9. Mike DeVito, Kansas City: The Chiefs are thrilled about his free-agent pickup. He can play.

10. Vance Walker, Oakland: Free-agent addition was a good rotational player in Atlanta. Gets chance for a bigger role.

11. Pat Sims, Oakland: This could be a very good addition if he can stay healthy.

12. Kevin Vickerson, Denver: Nothing fancy, but Vickerson is a solid part of a good defense.

13. Robert Ayers, Denver: The Broncos need this former first-round pick to contribute with Elvis Dumervil gone.

14. Cam Thomas, San Diego: The Chargers expect a lot from this promising player.

15. Christo Bilukidi, Oakland: I have a feeling he is going to develop quickly.

16. Andre Carter, Oakland: Greatest value may be as a leader, which this young team needs.

17. Jason Hunter, Oakland: Try-hard player could get a lot of playing time.

18. Jack Crawford, Oakland: Second-year player will have a chance to show his value.
For the second time in his short tenure as the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio last month saw the team take a defensive lineman with its first draft pick, stealing North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams at No. 28. (Williams was expected to be a top-20 pick.)

Last year, Denver traded down and took defensive lineman Derek Wolfe out of Cincinnati. The versatile Wolfe was a mainstay as a rookie, and he looks to have a promising career ahead of him.

Del Rio knows these two players are major building blocks for his defense. And while they are different types of players, Del Rio expects both to have huge roles.

“Both of these young men, you’ve watched them come in the building -- they both have approached it very similarly,” Del Rio said. “Come in kind of determined, serious, mature in their approach. I think you’re going to see Sylvester be able to come in and impact us in a similar way [as Wolfe did last year], but he has a little bit more in front of him. Terrance Knighton can play and [Kevin Vickerson] can play. So he has to come in and earn and fight for his time, much like Derek did last year with [Robert Ayers] and Jason Hunter. You never know how it’s going to play out, but when you come in with that mentality and that approach, that gives you a chance. That is what I like about the way he’s started here, that he’s come in here very determined, very serious, very mature, very much about his business. That is good for all of us.”
The Oakland Raiders continued their theme of adding young starters on defense in an attempt to rebuild the team.

Oakland has signed Chicago linebacker Nick Roach. He is 27 and versatile. He was a strongside starting linebacker but played in the middle for Chicago when Brian Urlacher was hurt. He is considered to be an average player, but he will help Oakland as the starting middle linebacker.

The reportedly cap-strapped Raiders gave Roach a multiyear deal worth $3 million to $4 million a year.

Oakland just signed Cleveland’s Kaluka Maiava. He started several games at weakside linebacker for the Browns.

I expect the Raiders’ starting linebackers will be Roach, Maiava and second-year player Miles Burris. This group is not great but has a chance to grow together (Roach is the oldest of the group), and that is what Oakland needs -- youth and stability.

Philip Wheeler left for a big deal in Miami, and former first-round pick Rolando McClain is expected to be cut. Oakland also signed defensive tackle Pat Sims (Bengals) and defensive end Jason Hunter (Broncos). All of these players are decent, inexpensive pickups.

Meanwhile, another Raider has left the team and created another hole. Running back Mike Goodson has signed with the Jets. There is a hole behind starter Darren McFadden, especially considering the team is planning to move Taiwan Jones to cornerback.

Goodson, acquired in a trade with Carolina for guard Bruce Campbell last year, had 221 yards on 35 carries. Oakland will need to find a backup either in a weak free-agency class or with one of its five draft picks. While Oakland is making some signings, it still has plenty of needs.

It could lose another player. Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy is visiting Arizona. He has visits on tap to Tennessee and Philadelphia, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Shaughnessy could help the Raiders, but he fell out of favor late in the season.

In other AFC West notes:

• The Chiefs are talking to Minnesota guard Geoff Schwartz.

• New England is visiting with Colts pass-rusher Dwight Freeney. He is an option for Denver if it releases Elvis Dumervil. That decision is expected later Friday.

• The Jets are looking at San Diego pass-rusher Antwan Barnes.
The Oakland Raiders need starters and overall depth on defense and on Wednesday they acted to help fill that void.

The team signed defensive end Jason Hunter (Denver), linebacker Kaluka Maiava (Cleveland) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (Cincinnati).

“We’re excited to add three veterans through free agency,” Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a statement. “(They help) to create depth and competition on defense. We’ll continue to add free agents as the opportunity surfaces.”

The team has also visited with Chicago linebacker Nick Roach. Oakland cut safety Michael Huff and lost linebackers Philip Wheeler (Miami) and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant (Cleveland) on Tuesday. They ended the day with just three sure starters in the form of defensive lineman Lamarr Houston, linebacker Miles Burris and safety Tyvon Branch.

The three new additions will help Oakland. I think Sims and Maiava could be starters and Hunter is a decent rotational player.

Scouts like Sims, who started one game last season and who is injury prone. But he has talent. Maiava started most of last season in Cleveland. Hunter played in Denver under Oakland head coach Dennis Allen.

I’m not sure if these are upgrades. But they are NFL-quality players who should make contributions in Oakland. I expect the Raiders to continue to add these types of younger, fairly inexpensive players to the roster in this time of flux.

Broncos cut Lonie Paxton

August, 27, 2012
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Long snapper Lonie Paxton highlighted the list of 12 players the Denver Broncos cut to get down to 75 on Monday. The 53-man cut-down date is Friday.

Paxton was one of Josh McDaniels’ first signings in Denver after playing for him in New England in 2009. The 12-year veteran has been solid for Denver and there were no indications he was going to be cut. Undrafted rookie Aaron Brewer is set to take over as Denver’s long snapper.

The other players Denver cut are: linebacker Elliot Coffey, receiver Mark Dell, receiver Cameron Kenney, tight end Anthony Miller, defensive end Cyril Obiozor, running back Xavier Omon, safety Anthony Perkins, tackle Mike Remmers, cornerback Ramzee Robinson, fullback Austin Sylvester and guard Austin Wuebbels.

Omon’s release was a bit of surprise. He had a strong game against Chicago on Aug. 9 and there was a chance he would make the roster. His release could be a good sign for 2009 first-round pick Knowshon Moreno. He is on the bubble but he played well Sunday against San Francisco.

The team placed defensive end Jason Hunter on the injured reserve. He tore a tricep earlier in camp. He will likely be ready by December, but the team deemed it too risky to save a roster spot for him.
D.J. Williams could have more trouble with the NFL.

Already facing a six-game ban from the league to start the season for using banned substance, the Denver linebacker was found guilty of driving while ability impaired and driving without his headlights on.

He was being tried stemming from a November, 2010 arrest for driving under the influence. The charge he was convicted on is a lesser alcohol related driving offense. Williams pleaded guilty to driving while impaired in Colorado in 2005.

The league could potentially suspended Williams independently of his other suspension after this conviction. According to the Denver Post, Williams faces a minimum of 10 days and up to one year in jail, a fine amount of $600 to $1,500 and 48 to 120 hours of community service.

In other AFC West news:
  • The Chargers’ home game against Dallas on Saturday will be blacked out on local television because not enough tickets were sold.
  • Oakland coach Dennis Allen said starting linebacker Aaron Curry is still getting knee treatments in Los Angeles and he is expected to be back with the team next week. Curry has missed all of camp. If he is not ready to practice next week, I’d think his chances of playing in Week 1 would be severely hampered. Rookie Miles Burris would likely start for Curry if that is the case.
  • CSN California reports the Raiders have waived/injured receiver Duke Calhoun and linebacker Mario Kurn. That is a procedural move to put the players on the injured reserve. It would be a shock if either player is claimed. They both recently suffered major knee injuries.
  • Denver coach John Fox said defensive end Jason Hunter will be out for four months with a triceps tear. Thus, he might miss the entire season. Hunter overtook former first-round pick Robert Ayers this summer for the starting job. Ayers will likely get the chance to re-take the job.
  • The Raiders reportedly visited with rookie defensive tackle Myles Wade. If he’s signed, it’d be for potential depth reasons.

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