AFC West: Juron Criner

NAPA, Calif. – Perhaps the biggest surprise on the Oakland Raiders initial depth chart on Monday was where receiver Denarius Moore was listed.

Third. Behind Andre Holmes and James Jones. Rod Streater, Greg Little and Juron Criner are the top three at the other receiver position.

On the surface, that’s bubble territory. As in, you’re on the bubble to make the 53-man roster. Yet while coach Dennis Allen insisted he takes “not much” stock in his own depth chart this early in training camp -- hey, the Raiders had to put out something four days before the exhibition opener at the Minnesota Vikings -- Moore’s poor body language during practice spoke volumes.

Moore
Of course, we could be reading into things, but this much is true: The Raiders are still waiting for Moore, who has been alternately explosive and frustrating in his first three NFL seasons, to be more consistent.

“One of the big topics has kind of been a little bit of the inconsistency in the past, but I think he’s been a lot better in this camp,” Allen said of Moore. “I’m excited about Denarius Moore. I’m really excited about the whole receiving corps really, because I think we’ve got a lot of young guys that have an opportunity to surprise some people.

“But, I do think Denarius is getting better as a football player and he has in this camp.”

And there lies the rub. Moore has been consistently inconsistent. One week, the former fifth-round draft pick out of Tennessee is an explosive, acrobatic playmaking pass catcher. Then he’ll disappear for weeks.

In three years, he has caught 130 passes for 2,054 yards and 17 touchdowns, but his per-season yards-catch averages have gone from 18.7 yards to 14.5 to 15.1.

Moore also has missed seven games due to injury in his career, and his mind has played tricks on him along the way.

“I was worrying whether I was going to be able to be that go-to guy, or what I was supposed to [do] on this down or that down,” Moore told the Bay Area News group. “If I dropped the last pass, I’d think, ‘Are they going to come back to me? Do they have faith in me?’

“I should have just let it go and go on to the next play.”

Since his rookie season, Moore has caught regular season passes from seven different quarterbacks -- Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor, Matt Flynn and Matt McGloin. Matt Schaub will make eight this season.

What’s that about maddening inconsistency, again?

“For a smaller guy, compared to our other receivers, he can still go up and make the high-point of the football and adjust to it in the air,” Schaub said of Moore. “I think he’s a guy that can take those short catches and turn them into big ones with his athleticism.”

The question then is can he do it consistently?
If Sammy Watkins is a target of the Oakland Raiders, who hold the No. 5 pick in May's NFL draft, that might be news to the former Clemson receiver.

Watkins, the top wideout in the draft who could go as high as No. 2 overall, told ESPN affiliate 95.7 The Game on Tuesday that he did not recall meeting with the Raiders at last month's combine in Indianapolis.

Watkins
That's not to say, though, that Watkins is feeling shunned. As he put it, he has love for all 32 teams.

“I have some freakish talents and ability to make plays,” he said. “I can jump, run catch, make somebody miss. That's my game.”

It's a game and playmaking skill set badly needed by the rebuilding Raiders, who added veteran possession pass-catcher James Jones in free agency and return Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Denarius Moore, Brice Butler and Juron Criner.

Watkins, though, plays bigger and faster than his listed 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, and many see him as Denarius Moore 2.0.

“I'm able to transition myself and work through tough conditions,” Watkins said. “I understand football and the preparation, so for me, it's getting in with the team I'm with and learn that playbook. That's all I need to do is really learn that playbook, and after that, just adjusting to the speed of the game and how cornerbacks play in the NFL.

“That would be the next step. I think after the first few games I'll be definitely fine.”

Watkins said he patterned his game after many different NFL receivers, listing Julio Jones, Torrey Smith, DeAndre Hopkins, Alshon Jeffery and Larry Fitzgerald. He was also asked where his skill set would best be put to use on an NFL field.

“If you want to make a lot of plays and help your team, I think ‘Z' would definitely be the position, because if they flip the coverage to your side, you definitely got one-on-one back side,” he said of what is commonly known as the flanker. “I think for me to spread the field and getting down the field and have space, the ‘Z' would be a nice position for me.”

And his favorite route to run?

“I would probably say a dig, probably a speed dig or a regular dig,” Watkins said. “You can't really stop those.”

Midseason Report: Oakland Raiders

November, 6, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- You knew this was going to be a rebuilding year for the Oakland Raiders and, before Sunday's embarrassing 49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland was playing above expectations. Indeed, after a 4-12 season last year, the Raiders had a chance to win their fourth game at this year's midway points.

Alas, the Eagles and Nick Foles, who threw a record-tying seven touchdowns, had different plans and it makes you wonder if these are indeed the same old Raiders who have not been to the playoffs since 2002, let alone had a winning season since that Super Bowl campaign. The difference, at least on the surface, is this team has been in every game save two -- at Denver and against the Eagles.

But the NFL is a results-oriented business and at the midway point, the Raiders sit at 3-5.

 
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Bittersweet, or simply the nature of the business?

I asked Raiders coach Dennis Allen this in the wake of Oakland cutting a member of the first draft class in the Allen/Reggie McKenzie Era: defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi. The move was made to to make room for linebacker Martez Wilson.

Bilukidi
“Really,” Allen said, “it's the nature of the business. This is a production business and we're going to continue to try to do everything we can to upgrade our roster to help our football team. We felt like being able to take a look at Martez was a good chance for us to upgrade the roster.”

No doubt Bilukidi was a project when the Raiders used a 2012 sixth-round draft pick on the Georgia State product, the fifth player ever taken by McKenzie and Allen.

And while Bilukidi appeared in 13 games as a rookie and five more this season, getting a sack of Jacksonville's Chad Henne in the Raiders' home opener, it was not enough.

“No,” Allen said, when asked if he had, indeed, seen enough to warrant keeping Bilukidi and his sack.

In fact, small sample size and health issues be damned, you could say the same about that entire first draft class, which was already stretched thin due to trades under the previous regime that left the Raiders without a pick until the end of the third round.
  • Offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, who was taken with a compensatory pick at No. 95 overall and played in nine games while starting the season finale, was placed on Injured Reserve before the season began with a Lis Franc injury to his right foot.
  • Linebacker Miles Burris, who started 15 of the 16 games in which he played, is on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List after offseason knee surgery, though Allen said he hopes Burris will begin practicing next week.
  • Defensive end Jack Crawford has already played in more games this season than last -- five to four -- and has six tackles after having three last season.
  • Receiver Juron Criner has yet to be active for a game this season, Bilukidi was cut and linebacker Nathan Stupar is a special teams contributor for the San Francisco 49ers. He was was cut by the Raiders before last year's season opener.

In fact, two undrafted rookie free agents from 2012 start for Oakland now: receiver Rod Streater and left guard Lucas Nix.

“I think part of the draft process is picking up some players, and if you have numbers and volumes of players, your percentages of hitting on those guys are pretty good,” Allen said.

“I think we'll see some good things, not only out of the 2012 guys, but some of these guys we drafted this past season. I think that as we keep moving down the road, I think those guys will help us.”

Just not right away.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Juron Criner went home to Las Vegas during the Raiders' bye weekend and, with the way the receiver's second pro season has gone thus far, would you be shocked if he hit a certain table in the gambling mecca and crapped out?

Criner, the second of Oakland's two fifth-round draft picks in 2012, has yet to be active for a game this season ... after appearing in 12 games last year and catching 16 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown.

"I'm not really sure what it is," Criner said this week. "I just come out, work hard and do what I'm supposed to do and wait for my number to come up.

[+] EnlargeOakland's Juron Criner
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsJuron Criner has not seen the field during the 2013 regular season.
"It's frustrating but you can't let it frustrate you. I'm a young guy, I'm a young receiver, I got time. They have other options that they're going with right now. I can't do anything but respect that. But if I let it get me down, it will only put me further under. It won't help me any."

Since being selected out of Arizona, the purported physical red zone target who has size (6-feet-3, 221 pounds) and soft hands has been surpassed on Oakland's depth chart by the undrafted Rod Streater, 2013 seventh-round draft pick Brice Butler and free-agent pickup Andre Holmes, who had to serve a four-game suspension for a failed PED test.

And yet, as one league source wondered aloud, who is Criner going to play ahead of on the Raiders now?

"I think he's got to continue to do something on a day-in and day-out basis to catch the attention of myself and the offensive coaches," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "Really when you look at it, the players really determine who plays. The guys that go out and practice the best, the guys that make the most plays in practice then make the most plays in the game, those are the guys that go out there and play."

Criner was a rookie camp star two springs ago as a member of general manager Reggie McKenzie's first draft class and also shined in the first round of OTAs.

Then, something happened.

"They're confident in what I can do with my abilities," Criner said. "But I can always practice harder, run faster everywhere. There's always little things you can do.

"My practice habits are definitely getting a lot better, so I feel like it's really helping me a lot being in this situation and having to take practice a lot more serious. So, it's definitely helping me as a player."

Criner said his becoming a forgotten man in the Raiders receiving corps was not necessarily a reflection of a poor work ethic, that the coaching staff simply decided to go another route with the pass catchers at their disposal.

While Allen's earlier words would seem to contradict that train of thought, the Raiders obviously still like something about Criner. Otherwise, he would have been cut long ago, right?

"Yeah, he's an athletic guy," Allen said. "He's a big guy. He's got good hands. But he's got to be able to do it on a more consistent basis, day-in and day-out."

Criner said he realizes this, while acknowledging he needs to keep his not dressing on Sundays from bringing him down mentally.

"Just stay positive," he said. "All the receivers are good guys. We're all tight, we're all friends. So, just having a positive attitude a lot around me, it helps me."

And yes, Criner said he has approached receivers coach Ted Gilmore for advice.

"At the end of the day," Criner said, "all I could do is still wait."

 

Help on way for Raiders receivers?

October, 1, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Raiders saw a new but familiar face in their locker room Monday, that of receiver Andre Holmes. His four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances came to an end.

And while Holmes has been transferred from the reserve/suspended list to the exempt list, the Raiders have a week to decide whether to activate Holmes to the active 53-man roster.

Holmes
“We’ll have to see him,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen. “We haven’t even been able to work with him for a month, for four games. We’ll have to see how he is when he gets back in here.”

Holmes, who was claimed by Oakland off waivers on May 13 after New England waived him two days earlier, is a big, physical target who led the Raiders in the preseason with seven catches, for 86 yards. This after finding out he’d be serving his suspension for a failed test in April.

At the time, Holmes said in a statement he was surprised to learn he had tested positive for a banned amphetamine, according to the Associated Press.

"I know that I had been quite ill when I was tested in early April, as I reported to the sample collector at the time my sample was given, so I thought one of the medications I was taking was responsible,” Holmes said in his statement. “However, to this day, even after further testing, I do not know how the substance got into my system. The drug policy rules are very strict with a zero tolerance, so after consulting with the (NFL Players Association) and reviewing the medical documentation, I will not appeal the discipline.”

So after flashing in camp and the preseason, he sat at home and worked out on his own, and was not allowed any contact with the Raiders. Until Monday, when he walked into the facility’s locker room late in the afternoon.

“Whatever role that I get, I’ll just come in and try to do that to the best of my ability,” said Holmes, who has played in seven NFL games in his career, all with Dallas last year, and has two receptions for 11 yards.

“Whatever my opportunity is, I’ll just come in and try to do that the best I can.

“It really kind of (stunk) not to be out there to contribute or have my hand in it. So I’m excited to be back.”

Singling out Oakland’s wide receivers, Denarius Moore leads the Raiders with 15 receptions for 233 yards and two touchdowns, while Rod Streater has 13 catches for 172 yards. Rookie Brice Butler has seven catches for 78 yards and Jacoby Ford has four catches for 29 yards.

And that’s it for the Raiders receiving corps. If and when Oakland activates the 6-feet-4, 210-pound Holmes, the wideout to keep an eye on as a potential roster cut, then, might be second-year receiver Juron Criner. The fifth-round draft pick in 2012 has been inactive for all four games thus far.

Holmes said he thought he would be ready to play this weekend against San Diego, though he realizes that is not his call.

“I mean, there might be a little rustiness, just getting back to playing,” he said. “But I feel like I did a pretty good job these past four weeks in keeping myself mentally and physically prepared.”
The Oakland Raiders are seemingly in a never-ending quest for a wide receiver to develop.

The Raiders have swung on and missed with the likes of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens in recent years.

There is a new group of young, unproven receivers in Oakland. All have talent, but none are sure things. The Raiders are totally open at the spot and are hoping some of these players develop. Oakland may have trouble keeping six at the position because of the possibility the team will keep extra players at quarterback and at tight end. Below is a look at what Oakland’s receiving corps may look like as we approach the 53-man cut Saturday:

Rod Streater: He has been quiet in the preseason and is now dealing with a possible concussion. He may have the most upside on roster.

Denarius Moore: Oakland wants to see this third-year talent become more consistent and more mature on the field. He has big potential.

Jacoby Ford: The Raiders made a commitment to Ford by cutting Josh Cribbs, as they're both similar players. The key for the explosive Ford is his health, which has been a problem.

Juron Criner: A camp star last year who has been injured and fairly quiet. Still, I’d be surprised if he isn’t kept.

Brice Butler: Seventh-round pick has been impressive. He has all the tools, but can he make an instant impact?

Andre Holmes: He has been impressive and has good size. Holmes is facing a four-game suspension to start season, but I could see him in Oakland’s long-term plans.

Greg Jenkins: He has some ability, but he may be caught in numbers game.

Conner Vernon: An undrafted pick who was an early favorite to stick, but he might be practice-squad material.
We continue our AFC West positional rankings with a strong group of receivers:

1. Demaryius Thomas, Denver: Thomas is developing into one of the best receivers in the NFL. He has it all -- and he has Peyton Manning.

2. Wes Welker, Denver: Welker has a specific role, but you can’t argue with his production. He is a special player.

3. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City: Bowe was No. 1 on this list last year. He hasn’t regressed. He is still top-notch. But the group is better.

4. Eric Decker, Denver: Decker completes what is probably the best trio of receivers in the NFL.

5. Donnie Avery, Kansas City: There is a drop-off here. But Avery is a pro. The free-agent pickup will help the Chiefs.

6. Denarius Moore, Oakland: Moore is a good, young player. He didn’t make the strides he was expected to in Year Two, but the skills are there.

7. Vincent Brown, San Diego: Brown can zoom up the list this season. Big things were expected in 2012, but he missed the entire season with a broken ankle.

8. Danario Alexander, San Diego: He came off the street and made a difference last season. He has big ability. Health is the only question.

9. Malcom Floyd, San Diego: How much has this group improved? Floyd was second on this list a year ago.

10. Rod Streater, Oakland: I wouldn’t be surprised if Streater makes a big leap on this list next year. He was very polished as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

11. Jon Baldwin, Kansas City: The Chiefs are still waiting for the talented 2011 first-round pick to develop.

12. Keenan Allen, San Diego: I expect the rookie to be an instant contributor. The Chargers got a steal in the third round of the draft.

13. Jacoby Ford, Oakland: If he can stay healthy, Ford can make an impact.

14. Dexter McCluster, Kansas City: McCluster can finally make an impact in Andy Reid’s offense.

15. Juron Criner, Oakland: He opened eyes in camp as a rookie, but didn’t do much last season. Still, a solid developmental player.

16. Robert Meachem, San Diego: He can still show something after being a total dud as a free-agent pickup last season.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

How does each team look at wide receiver and what still needs to be done?

Denver

The Broncos made the biggest free-agency splash in the AFC West by signing New England slot machine Wes Welker.

He has led the NFL in receptions over the past six seasons and is joining a quarterback, Peyton Manning, who has long had a connection with his slot receivers. The Welker addition gives Denver arguably the best group of receivers in the NFL.

Welker joins young receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Both players flourished while playing with Manning last season. With these skilled players, someone is going to be open. Finding a way to defend this trio will be a major task for every defensive coordinator that faces Denver.

Kansas City

This position is going to be in the spotlight because new head coach Andy Reid loves the passing game.

It all starts with top receiver Dwayne Bowe. There is a reason the new Kansas City brass gave Bowe a huge contract to keep him from leaving in free agency. Reid is going to build his passing game around Bowe. Bowe has big ability and can be a top receiver. Yes, he still drops passes and he has to show he will still be hungry after getting the big contract. But he can play.

The Chiefs made an underrated addition in Donnie Avery. He had 60 catches for the Colts last season. He can stretch the field. Reid will find ways for Avery to help. Reid is also a fan of tiny Dexter McCluster, who can line up in several different spots. Perhaps he can fill a DeSean Jackson-like role for Reid.

The team also has a slot option in Devon Wylie. A big question mark, of course, is 2011 first-round pick Jon Baldwin. He has made little impact. He looks good in camp but disappears on the field. Reid gave him a lukewarm endorsement recently. Baldwin has talent, but it’s time he shows it. I think we could see the Chiefs draft another bigger receiver in the middle rounds, but I think the team will try to rely on Bowe, Avery and McCluster this season and hope others develop.

Oakland

The Raiders have a familiar theme at this position. They are young and promising, but they are also unproven. That has been the story with this unit for a few years. They Raiders have loaded up on young receivers, but none have shown they can be a proven starter.

The team released 2009 No. 7 overall pick Darrius Heyward-Bey this year. He joins fellow young, promising receivers Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy as those who have been jettisoned in the recent past after not fulfilling hopes. But the cupboard is not bare. Again, we need to see these players take the next step.

The two players who probably will get the first chance are Denarius Moore and Rod Streater. Moore, a fifth-round pick in 2011, had a decent season last year -- 51 catches for 741 yards and seven touchdowns. But he was inconsistent and didn’t make the expected strides after his rookie season. Still, he has ability, and the Raiders need him to show he can be a No. 1 receiver. Streater had 39 catches as an undrafted rookie. He looks very promising and is a hard worker. If Streater and Moore can grow together, the Raiders might be onto something for the future.

Small receiver Jacoby Ford has big-play capability, but he is injury prone. Still, he will get a chance to show he can help. Juron Criner, a fifth-round pick last year, was a camp star and made a few plays in the season. He has a chance to develop as well. The Raiders have a lot of needs, but I can see them adding another receiver to the mix. Again, this group is full of potential. Now it’s time Oakland gets major production from that potential.

San Diego

The Chargers can use some receiving help. They have other needs, but I can see them taking a receiver as early as the second round. If the season started now, Malcom Floyd would be the team’s No. 1 receiver and he is more of a No. 2 receiver.

But there is hope. Danario Alexander made an impact last season. He was a former prospect who fell through the cracks because of injuries. He is a restricted free agent, and it wouldn't be out of the question for another team to sign him to an offer sheet. The Chargers would like to keep him. He has great size, big ability and he forged a nice chemistry with quarterback Philip Rivers.

The team is also excited about Vince Brown. He missed all of last season after suffering a broken ankle in the preseason. He came on strong as a rookie and will have a role. There also are Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal. Both signed last year and both gave minimal production.

They will be given a chance, but the Chargers want to see Alexander and Brown continue to develop. It would not hurt the team to go find a young receiver it could try to develop quickly.
The Oakland Raiders are over the salary cap, and will likely have to cut some players to help get under the cap.

Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly is a top candidate to be cut, and quarterback Carson Palmer, who is due to make more than $13 million, will likely have to take a pay cut to stay with the team. Another name that continues to pop up on the list of potential cuts is receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.

I think the Raiders should find a way to keep Heyward-Bey. There is no doubt his contract has to be reworked. He is entering the final year of a five-year contract that paid him more than $38 million after he was the surprise No. 7 pick in the 2009 draft. Heyward-Bey’s salary-cap number is more than $10 million this season.

There is no way he is worth it. But I think Oakland should try to keep him if Heyward-Bey is walking to accept a big pay cut. He might not have a choice. He will get interest on the open market, but not at a big rate.

This year’s free agent receiver class is strong. I think Heyward-Bey might be better off playing out this year and trying to improve this season.

Heyward-Bey had a slow start to his career, but he had a breakout year in 2011 with 64 catches. However, he regressed in 2012. Heyward-Bey, who has struggled with hand issues his entire career, had 41 catches in 2012.

Heyward-Bey is an average receiver, and I don’t think he will ever be elite. But I think Oakland should keep him for one more year, because it needs him.

Denarius Moore has star potential, but he is still inconsistent. Jacoby Ford has ability, but he has had trouble staying healthy and missed all of last season with a nagging foot injury. Second-year players Rod Streater and Juron Criner also have potential, but they might not be ready to be major contributors yet.

If Oakland can figure out a way to hold on to Heyward-Bey for the final year of his contract at a reasonable rate, it might be worth its while.
Doug MartinMarcio Jose Sanchez/AP PhotoTampa Bay running back Doug Martin shredded Oakland for 251 yards and four touchdowns.

OAKLAND -- It was all there for the Oakland Raiders.

They could have erased an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit. They could have won their second straight home game after being behind by double digits in the second half. They could have won their third straight game and been a real factor in the AFC West and AFC playoff hunt at 4-4.

They could have built an identity of never-say-die and they could have made their home field a terror for opponents to visit. It could have been a season-changing game no one would ever forget.

It almost was a great day in Oakland. Almost never cuts it in the NFL.

At the end of the day, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Raiders 42-32 in a game in which 57 points were scored in the second half.

The reality is Oakland is now 3-5 and two games behind Denver (5-3) for the top spot in the AFC West. San Diego (4-4) is in second place.

Oakland’s run defense was shredded by Buccaneers rookie Doug Martin, who rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries. Oakland allowed Tampa Bay to register 515 yards of total offense.

The Raiders suffered several injuries, losing running back Darren McFadden and his backup Mike Goodson to ankle injuries. There was no immediate word on how long McFadden will be out, but the team said X-rays were negative.

The injuries to the tailbacks forced Oakland to rely on the pass too much. Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer attempted 61 passes, completing 39 for 414 yards, and he tossed four touchdowns. But Palmer also threw three interceptions, including two in the final three minutes of the game with Oakland desperately trying to rally.

The Raiders almost caught up in the fourth quarter by being patient. Yet, when they got the ball at their own 38-yard line, trailing 35-32 with 2:42 to go, Oakland got anxious and had Palmer air it out. The second play of the drive was a poorly thrown pass that was intercepted. Tampa Bay scored three plays later to seal the game.

That sequence ended what could have been a magical day for Oakland.

From 14:11 to 3:51 remaining in the fourth quarter, Oakland outscored Tampa Bay 22-7 and made it a three-point game after a two-point conversion pass from Palmer to rookie Juron Criner in front of a frenzied crowd.

During that span, everything that needs to happen during wild, unlikely comebacks happened. The Raiders had the Buccaneers on their heels despite the fact Martin had touchdown runs of 45, 67 and 70 yards in the game.

“Everyone in the building knew we had a chance,” Oakland guard Cooper Carlisle said. “We just couldn’t finish it.”

Carlisle and his teammates know how close they were to making something special happen. They know it was a lost opportunity.

“But there’s still a lot of football left,” Carlisle said. “But we we’re nowhere close to where we’d like to be.”

Oakland is probably where it is supposed to be. It looks like a 3-5 team. Halfway through the season, the Raiders are a team that is rebuilding and dealing with a lot of injuries.

The Raiders are also a team that was so close to experiencing a magical moment.
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Raiders have receiver issues

September, 11, 2012
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A day after the Oakland Raiders’ passing game relied on short passes to potentially overworked running back Darren McFadden, the team got bad news for the receiver group.

Jacoby Ford, a sparkplug No. 3 receiver, will have surgery on his left foot and he will be out a significant amount of time, according to Oakland coach Dennis Allen. Ford missed nearly the entire second half of last season with a sprained left foot and then he re-injured the same foot this summer. It is reasonable to think Ford, a third-year speedster, could miss the entire year.

The Raiders hope to get starter Denarius Moore back Sunday. He has been out for several weeks with a hamstring injury. When Miller return the Raiders will have a receiver groups that includes Moore, fellows starter Darrius Heyward-Bey, Derek Hagan, and rookie Rod Streater and Juron Criner. Streater, an undrafted rookie, started in a loss to San Diego on Monday night.

With a strapped receiving crew, Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer went to McFadden often. He had 13 catches for 86 yards. It was a Raiders’ record for a running back. The problem was, McFadden’s longest catch was for 17 yards and it the Chargers snuffed it out, for the most part, in the second half. McFadden didn’t have success as a runner, which is his biggest job. He had just 32 yards on 15 carries.

Thus, 28 touches for 118 yards may not be worth it for a player who is injury prone. The Raiders need to find a way to maximize McFadden’s impact.

With Ford out, the Raiders will surely look for a veteran. They worked out Jabar Gaffney last week before signing Hagan. Gaffney could be a choice. Oakland will likely bring in someone, but the truth is, no newcomer is going to make up for Ford’s speed. What the Raiders need is to hope Hagan, Streater and Criner can all make impacts.
As expected, Oakland Raiders receiver Jacoby Ford did not practice Saturday night and has been ruled out for Monday night’s home game against San Diego. Ford hasn’t practiced for several weeks with a foot injury.

Starting receiver Denarius Moore, however, has practiced all week. Barring a setback, he should be able to play. Rookie receiver Juron Criner is also dealing with a leg injury.

Oakland may have to rely on starter Darrius Heyward-Bey, undrafted rookie Rod Streater -- who was reportedly working with the starters Saturday -- and newly signed Derek Hagan.

It could be difficult, especially with an inexperienced group at tight end. But if Moore can shake off the rust of not playing during the preseason, Oakland could get by in the passing game.

Meanwhile, San Diego defensive tackle Antonio Garay is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. He practiced on a limited basis all week. As expected left tackle Jared Gaither (back) and running back Ryan Mathews (shoulder) are out. Mathews may play next week against Tennessee. There is no real timetable for Gaither’s return, but the team is still hoping he can play this season.

In other AFC West news, the Chiefs re-signed seventh-round pick Junior Hemingway to the practice squad and cut offensive lineman Rich Ranglin on Saturday. Last week, the Chiefs made the exact opposite move.
The Oakland Raiders reportedly visited with veteran receiver Jabar Gaffney on Wednesday.

The move makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, the Raiders are banged up at receiver. Starter Denarius Moore (hamstring) and No. 3 receiver Jacoby Ford (foot) have been not been practicing for several weeks. The team is hopeful Moore could play Monday against San Diego. Ford’s chances of playing Monday may be more up in the air at this point. Rookie Juron Criner is dealing with an ankle injury, but he has been practicing some.

Right now, the Raiders are relying on starter Darrius Heyward-Bey and undrafted rookie Rod Streater if those players can’t play against the Chargers. Even if Moore can play, the Raiders could use a veteran like Gaffney in the San Diego game.

Even for the long term, if the Raiders want a veteran, I like the idea of adding a player like Gaffney. The Raiders have long been connected to the likes of Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson. However, Gaffney is a much better option in my mind. Gaffney, 31, is younger than those players. He doesn’t carry the baggage those players do and he has been more productive recently.

Gaffney had 68 catches for Washington last season. He was cut by New England in August. Gaffney had success in Denver under Josh McDaniels, who is now the Patriots’ offensive coordinator.

I don’t necessarily think Gaffney is a total impact player, but he’d fill some needs in Oakland, so I think he is worth pursuing.

Meanwhile, the Raiders announced these are their 2012 team captains: quarterback Carson Palmer, running back Darren McFadden, defensive tackle Richard Seymour, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and punter Shane Lechler.
As expected, the San Diego Chargers will put receiver Vincent Brown on injured reserve.

However, Brown will be able to be taken off the injured reserve, per new NFL rules, when he is healthy. He is expected to miss about half the season after breaking his ankle in the second preseason game. He is eligible to return after eight games. By putting Brown on the injured reserve, the Chargers can add a player to the roster now. The team has been looking for help on the offensive line and at cornerback.

In other AFC West news:

Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke reportedly has cleared waivers. Oakland cut the 2011 third-round pick Monday after he struggled in the preseason. It is somewhat surprising another team didn’t take a chance on a speedy, young, high pick.

CLARIFICATION: Van Dyke is not eligible for any practice squad because he played in 14 games last season, which is beyond the NFL limit for practice squad eligibility. Thus, he can only be signed to a 53-man roster.

Oakland receivers Denarius Moore (hamstring) and Jacoby Ford (foot) did not practice Tuesday. The team has maintained it believes both players should be ready to play Monday against San Diego. However, because he is just starting to jog, Ford may have less of a chance to play than Moore.

Rookie receiver Juron Criner is reportedly dealing with an ankle issue. If these injuries do not improve through the week, Oakland may have to look for receiver help. That decision likely wouldn’t happen until later in the week.

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie restructured his contract to remain with the Ravens. Had he been cut, I’d think the Chargers would have seriously considered pursuing him. The team is staring undrafted rookie Mike Harris against Oakland next week because starter Jared Gaither is out with a back ailment.

Miami is cutting backup quarterback David Garrard. At this point, I don’t think any of the teams in the AFC West would rush to sign him.

Don’t expect the Chiefs to sign free agent defensive tackle Shaun Smith this week. I think the Chiefs will wait to see what they have at nose tackle before deciding if they want more help. Smith tried out for the Chiefs last week. He previously played for the Chiefs.

Here is a look at the AFC West’s representatives at the NFL’s kickoff festivities this week.

The Chargers signed tackle Kevin Haslam to the practice squad. He was cut by the Raiders on Friday.

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