KEYS TO THE GAME:
Chiefs RB Larry Johnson is coming off a 119-yard rushing game and had a combined 289 rushing yards on 4.7 yards per carry last season against the Raiders, who are giving up a league-worst 5.6 yards per carry this season. If Johnson is roaming freely, it will set up the Chiefs' play-action passing game, although K.C. will be conservative pushing the ball downfield against the Raiders' talented corners.
The Raiders discovered against San Diego that nothing good happens when they fall behind. The offense isn't built to play catch-up and needs to be based on pounding it with RBs LaMont Jordan, Justin Fargas and maybe even Dominic Rhodes this week.
After giving up six sacks to the Chargers with QB Daunte Culpepper fumbling twice, the Raiders have to be concerned with Chiefs DE Jared Allen (6.0 sacks in four games this season).
FAST FACTS: Johnson has scored 10 of his 52 career touchdowns against the Raiders while averaging 130 yards in total offense. ... Culpepper has 87 fumbles in 88 career games.
--DE Jared Allen, the league's No. 2 man in sacks this year, was non-committal Thursday when asked about Carl Peterson's comment that "We will not lose Jared Allen," even if the team had to use the franchise player protection. "I'll deal with that when the time comes, but either way, I'm a winner," he said, remembering how the salary for franchised defensive ends could top $10 million next year.
--LB Keyaron Fox was ruled out for Sunday's Oakland game while still recovering from a hamstring injury. Fox has missed the last three games.
--FS Jarrad Page returned to practice Thursday, participating in a full session, after missing the Wednesday workout with a sore hamstring.
--SS Greg Wesley did a full practice Thursday after missing the Wednesday session with a sore knee.
-- DT Warren Sapp missed practice for the second consecutive day with an ankle injury but is expected to play.
-- T Cornell Green, a starter at right tackle, returned to practice Thursday after missing the previous day with an ankle injury and is expected to face Kansas City.
-- WR/KR Tim Dwight worked out for the Raiders earlier this week but was not signed to a contract. The Raiders have only four wide receivers on the roster and are struggling in the return game.
-- PK Sebastian Janikowski has not attempted a field goal since Sept. 23, when he was 4-for-4 against Cleveland. With his next field goal, Janikowski ties Chris Bahr with 162 field goals atop the franchise all-time list.
-- C Jeremy Newberry, who sat out Wednesday's practice because of previous knee problems and a pulled hamstring earlier this season, was back at practice Wednesday and is expected to start against Kansas City.
-- G-T Paul McQuistan filled in at guard Wednesday when Cornell Green took a day off because of a sore knee, the first clear indication of who is actually the backup at right tackle. Rookie Mario Henderson, listed as the backup on the depth chart, has been inactive all five games.
Priest Holmes had a second solid day of workouts Thursday and seemed ready to return to a game-day environment for the first time since sustaining career-threatening head and neck injuries on Oct. 30, 2005.
And word is he will be active for Sunday's game.
They had three weeks to decide what to do with Holmes, and coach Herm Edwards wasn't eager to make a decision.
"He was still fresh; he wasn't sore," Edwards said of Holmes' Thursday workout. "He had a good practice for what we asked him to do. We'll wait another day and see how he feels tomorrow.
"I don't rule anything out. We have time. There's no rush."
Holmes teammates gave the 34-year-old team leader in career rushing a vote of confidence after two practices.
"He really looks like he's in great shape," said quarterback Damon Huard. "He's running hard and catching the ball, so he should be a nice addition to our offense."
Huard sounded excited about the prospect of having two proven star backs in the same backfield should Holmes be available to back up Larry Johnson.
"They're both superstars in this league," he said. "It would be unbelievable to get a one-two punch going with those two guys like there was in 2005."
Opponents have been successful in avoiding Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, but can't seem to avoid linebacker Thomas Howard.
Howard, a second-year player out of Texas El-Paso, has intercepted passes in four consecutive games and returning two for touchdowns from distances of 44 and 66 yards.
Not bad considering when the Raiders took Howard in the second round, scouting reports suggested he was a gifted athlete who lacked instinct for the game.
"I didn't really buy into it too much," Howard said. "They have a job they have to go out there and do their job. As far as me, I have to go out there after being drafted by the Raiders to come out and execute my defense and try and get better each week and become a better player. It's my second year I still have a lot to learn."
With four interceptions, Howard is tied atop the NFL with Dallas cornerback Anthony Henry and one ahead of teammate Kirk Morrison, Oakland's middle linebacker. A linebacker hasn't led the club in interceptions since William Thomas had six in 2000, sharing the team lead with Eric Allen.
Morrison's touchdowns have come with the help of his friends. His touchdown return against Denver was tipped at the line by rookie end Jay Richardson, and the San Diego score came when Philip Rivers found Warren Sapp in his face and couldn't get off a decent throw.
On the San Diego touchdown, Howard was so far in the clear he began high-stepping into the end zone at the 35-yard-line.
"I'm still trying to look into the NFL to see what's the longest high-step into the end zone," Howard said. "I think I might have broken it or maybe I'm second to Deion (Sanders), who knows?"
PREDICTION: Raiders 24-20