Jordan is listed as doubtful with turf toe on his right foot - a
painful condition that makes his appearance against the Broncos
The injury occurred, Jordan believes, on his first or second carry
against the Browns. He kept churning to a 25-carry, 132-yard day - his
highest yardage figure in the NFL - but was extremely sore come Monday
By Wednesday, he wasn't much better.
"He wants to play, but you have to be physically ready and I doubt he
will be," Raiders coach Norv Turner said.
Against the Browns, Jordan, a backup to Curtis Martin for the past
four seasons, broke the 1,000-yard mark. He has 272 carries for 1,025
yards and also leads Oakland in receiving with 70 receptions for 563
yards. His 1,588 yards from scrimmage trails only a roll call of the
NFL's elite backs - Tiki Barber (1,998), Edgerrin James (1,788), Shaun Alexander (1,740), Larry Johnson (1,692) and LaDainian Tomlinson
Jordan has a team-high 11 touchdowns, nine rushing and two receiving.
Veteran Zack Crockett, who figures to assume much of Jordan's
workload, realizes how difficult turf toe can be. As a rookie with the
Indianapolis Colts, he watched Marshall Faulk struggle with it. As a
Raider, he saw teammate Charles Woodson play three-quarters of the
season in pain, rarely practicing and getting game day pain-killing
"It's a nagging, pressure-point injury," Crockett said. "It will be
tough to lose a guy of his caliber. You know I'm always ready to pick up
Crockett is Oakland's second-leading ball-carrier with 30 carries for
120 yards and one touchdown. He carried four times for 10 yards against
Cleveland after getting only one rush in the previous four games.
When pressed into action last season in the regular-season finale,
Crockett rushed for 134 yards on 22 carries in a 13-6 loss to
Sharing the load with Crockett will be Justin Fargas, who may need a
can of WD-40 to loosen the rust. Fargas has two carries for 4 yards and
hasn't carried the ball since Week 4.
"Coaches call that fresh legs," Crockett said with a wide smile.
"You've got a guy who's anxious, and when he hears his name called he's
ready to go. You know he's hungry. When you've got one guy who's been
carrying the load, then you spread it around, guys will be happy. It's
going to be a great thing."
Fargas, a special teams regular, had 75 carries for 329 yards in his
first two seasons. He had six carries for 38 yards against Kansas City
last Christmas Day and had career highs in carries (16) and yards (62)
against the New York Jets in 2003.
Then Jordan arrived with a five-year, $27.5 million deal, fitting
Turner's vision of a workhorse in the Emmitt Smith, Ricky Williams,
LaDainian Tomlinson mold.
"When we brought in LaMont, I knew what we were getting," Fargas
said. "They wanted him to be the every-down back and he's done a good
job with that. On a personal note, you wish you could get more
opportunities and fit in somewhere. But that didn't happen. You just
have to be patient in this game and things will come your way. I know
Zack and I will be able to carry the load."
Before the Raiders played Cleveland, it began to look as if Jordan
needed some help. His yards per carry going into the game had dipped to
3.5, and his dropped passes (12, by count of STATS, Inc.) leads the
"The season has been very disappointing," Jordan said. "I'll look
back at the end of the year and say I got a thousand yards for the first
time in my career, and that's something to celebrate. But at the same
time, it's really not."
SERIES HISTORY: 91st meeting, Raiders lead 53-35-2. Broncos won last
meeting 31-17 on Nov. 13 at McAfee Coliseum and have won four of last
five. Raiders won last game at Invesco Field, 25-24 on Nov. 28, 2004.
--Defensive end Derrick Burgess was pleased to be named to the Pro
Bowl, but won't be found near water.
"Can't swim," Burgess said. "What you think I'm going to do, get a
tan? I'm not sitting on no beach. I'll be on the balcony, looking."
If some of Burgess' teammates were happy for him, fine, but he had no
interest in calling it a "bright spot."
"Me making the Pro Bowl?" Burgess said. "I don't think that's going
to help the team."
--Oakland had just one player on the Pro Bowl roster for the second
consecutive season. Punter Shane Lechler made it last season. No Raiders
were picked in 2003.
--The Raider with the most touches other than LaMont Jordan is not
another running back or wide receivers Jerry Porter or Randy Moss.
It's Chris Carr, generously listed 5-foot-9, 185-pound return
specialist and defensive back who has more kick returns than anyone in
the NFL not named Dante Hall.
Carr has already set a franchise record with 92 returns - 62 kickoff
returns and 30 punt returns. Only Kansas City's Hall (97) has more.
Carr's kick returns have Oakland beginning drives starting kickoffs
at the 31.1-yard line, No. 3 in the league. With a long of 62, his
average of 24.0 is held down somewhat because he hasn't gone the
His 5.5 average on punt returns leaves room for improvement, but Carr
is fearless (only six fair catches) and is an upgrade over the departed
Phillip Buchanon because he fields everything he can reach.
Carr said he feels remarkably good despite running the Raiders'
smallest body full speed into onrushing return coverage units week after
"When you're my size, you have to learn how to run hard and learn to
put your body in a position where you don't get hit too hard and take
those shots," Carr said. "I think I'm pretty flexible, too. A lot of
times I'll get caught up in a pile or bent a different way and think,
`If I didn't have flexible joints, I'd probably have hurt something. '"
--Over the last seven games, Denver has outrushed the Raiders 1,038
to 474 - an average of 148.2 to 67.7.
The Raiders have not had a rushing advantage over the Broncos since
second meeting in 2002, when Oakland had 136 yards on the ground to 81
for Denver, with Charlie Garner and Tyrone Wheatley running for 61 yards
Included in those seven games are Denver advantages of 121-60,
122-61, 254-31 and 190-39.
--The handful of Raiders who had played with Darrell Russell were
saddened but not shocked to learn of his death in an automobile accident
in which Russell was a passenger.
Although there was no toxicology report, the time (6 a.m.) and
high-speed nature of the wreck led teammates to believe Russell had one
final poor decision.
Russell, 29, was suspended three times under the NFL's substance
abuse policy. He was also funny and engaging, a natural storyteller, and
generous to a fault, teammates said.
"He was a fun-loving guy, always had a smile on his face," center
Adam Treu said. "He was a very generous person. I remember coming in as
a rookie, I didn't have a shoe contract yet, and he had one. I remember
him giving me a pair of shoes because we both wore size 15."
Wide receiver Jerry Porter said Russell was "a great guy, a hell of a
guy. He just never found the strength to get going again after all the
trouble he got into."
--Oakland's best moment in the 2004 season came at Invesco Field, a
25-24 win over the playoff bound Broncos in which they overcame an
11-point deficit in the second half and upended Denver on a snowy Sunday
The game ended when Langston Walker blocked a potential game-winning
43-yard field goal attempt by Jason Elam.
"The stars must have been lined up, because gravity brought the ball
right to me," Walker said.
Quarterback Kerry Collins had his most heroic game as a Raider,
passing for 339 yards and four touchdowns, including a 5-yard flip to
Jerry Porter for the game winner with 1:49 to play.
Porter had a career night, with six receptions for 143 yards and
three touchdowns. It was largely on the basis of that game the Raiders
signed Porter to contract extension following the season.
"That was a stinging game," Broncos safety John Lynch said. "I
remember picking a ball off with about eight minutes left, we were up by
11, and I was thinking, `OK, we buried them.' And then it was over. To
their credit, they kept playing."
--Place kicker Sebastian Janikowski has no clue as to why he has
missed 10 field goal attempts - the most since his rookie season. He
says he feels fine physically and mentally.
"I'm confident every time I go out there," Janikowski said. "It's not
like I don't want to kick. Feels like I'm striking the ball good. Just
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 - AFC West wins for the Raiders this season. They
have never been winless in the division in the Al Davis era (since
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The guys who played in that game who were a part of
it, it's got to give you a feeling that, `Hey, it's doable.'" - Raiders
coach Norv Turner on how last year's 25-24 win in Denver can carry over
to Christmas Eve.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Raiders will hope to slow Denver's running game as they did in
the first meeting (3.2 yards per carry) with the strong play of its
front seven. Of particular trouble for the Raiders are the bootlegs
quarterback Jake Plummer throwing to tight ends Stephen Alexander and
Jeb Putzier, which will put linebacker Kirk Morrison, strong safety
Jarrod Cooper nickel back Renaldo Hill on the spot.
With tight end Courtney Anderson doubtful with a strained knee, the
Raiders run the risk of tipping off their run-pass intentions on the
basis of who is in the game at tight end.
Randal Williams, a converted wide receiver and the starter, is under
230 pounds and still adjusting to blocking defensive linemen. Zeron Flemister, a veteran tight end in the 260s, has not caught a pass this
season and has been primarily a blocker.
Anderson, at 270 pounds, was also a receiving threat.
--RB LaMont Jordan still had not removed his protective boot through
Thursday and had not practiced, meaning he will miss the Christmas Eve
game against Denver.
--DT Ted Washington, who had played in just 12 of his team's previous
32 games with Chicago and New England because of injury, will make his
31st consecutive start as a Raider against Denver.
--G/C Jake Grove (knee) missed practice for the fifth straight day.
He was inactive against Cleveland, likely will be inactive against
Denver and the possibility exists he has seen his last action in 2005.
--CB Fabian Washington, who suffered a bruised knee when it struck
the helmet of Cleveland quarterback Charlie Frye, practiced Wednesday
and is expected to resume his role in the staring lineup.
--CB Stanford Routt, who subbed for Nnamdi Asomugha when he was
feeling ill against the Jets and played well for Fabian Washington
against Cleveland, will back up at both spots.
--LT Barry Sims continues to struggle against smaller, quicker edge
rushers. Although Denver right end Trevor Pryce is having a strong
season, Sims usually fares better against more traditional ends.
--RB Omar Easy, Oakland's last option at running back after Zack
Crockett and Justin Fargas, has played in 51 games and has carried four
times for 1 yard. The carries came in 2004 with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Easy had seven carries for 25 yards in the preseason.
GAME PLAN: With Denver cornerback Darrent Williams out and having had
success against Champ Bailey in the past, look for the Raiders to be
more aggressive going to Randy Moss and Jerry Porter, both of whom have
been relatively quiet in recent weeks.
The problem lies in spotty pass protection, which has surrendered 18
sacks in the past four games. More quick developing patterns and
three-step drops may be required before going for the big strike.
Defensively, the Raiders are well aware of Denver's strengths with
regard to running the ball and using the bootleg off the run - and
rarely have they stopped both.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Raiders WRs Jerry Porter and Randy Moss vs. Broncos CB Dominique
Foxworth: With Porter and Moss often switching sides and trading off
plays in the slot, the time could come when Denver's rookie third-round
pick is isolated on either one of Oakland's big-play receivers. To have
any chance of upending the Broncos, quarterback Kerry Collins needs to
cash in on those opportunities.
Broncos C Tom Nalen vs. Raiders DT Ted Washington: Nalen, the NFL's
smallest starting at center at 286 pounds, gives away a minimum of 80 to
Washington, who plants himself in the middle of the line with the
stability of a freeway overpass. This is one of the better interior line
matchups of the season with two vastly different styles - the agile,
cut-blocking and movement style of Nalen against Washington's raw power
INJURY IMPACT: The absence of LaMont Jordan and Courtney Anderson, on
the surface, would seem to be a death knell to Oakland's intentions to
run the ball.
However, it also provides an opportunity for a fresh start, and
possibly be less predictable. Discernable patterns of offense could
change by necessity and possibly for the better, because Oakland's
approach with the ball has become stale and ineffective.