Hot Topic and Player Notes

Hot Topic and Player Notes

The Raiders rank third in the league in average gain on first down, 6.42 yards a play. It stands to reason, then, that with that kind of a head start, they should be successful on third down.

This particular set of seemingly related statistics lies.

The Raiders rank next-to-last in third down conversion percentage (29 percent, 14 of 49). It's a contradiction, right?

Wrong, according to coach Norv Turner. The statistics are skewed because 10 of the Raiders' 107 first-down plays went for big yardage.

Those plays netted 342 yards, almost half of the 687 yards they were credited with on first down. Included were plays of 73 and 64 yards and eight others that gained between 20 and 32 yards.

Simple subtraction shows, then, that on 97 of Oakland's first downs, the Raiders average first-down play netted 3.56 yards.

That meant they needed 6.44 yards for a first down on 91 percent of their third downs.

And that is the virtual opposite of what that 6.42 average gain on first down would seem to indicate. If their average first-down play were computed minus the 10 big ones, it would show an average gain of 3.56 yards.

And that would place the Raiders third from the bottom in the league rather than third from the top.

PLAYER NOTES

--LG Langston Walker (strained abdomen) was back at practice Thursday and is now considered out likely to play Sunday.

--C Jake Grove (knee), who had indicated he thought he might be well enough to play against San Diego on Sunday, did not practice and will probably be listed as out on Friday's final injury report.

--QB Kerry Collins' third-down passer rating of 65.7 ranks No. 24 in the NFL. He has only completed 45 percent of those passes and has yet to throw for a touchdown on third down.

--RB LaMont Jordan continues to lead all AFC running backs in pass receptions with 20 for 147 yards and a touchdown.

--K Sebastian Janikowski is tied for fifth in NFL kickoff touchbacks with 5.

--Although he has the longest punt return in the AFC this year (34 yards), rookie PR Chris Carr ranks just sixth in the conference in average (7.4 yards).

--A $50 Randy Moss Halloween mask was making the rounds in the locker room Thursday but players declined to put it on. RB Zack Crockett said he didn't want to frighten his children but LT Barry Sims conceded that the hair (done Afro style) was pretty appealing.

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