Help Wanted: Healthy players. That sign would appropriately fit the Oakland Raiders if they decided to put it on the front door of their facility in Alameda.
The list reads so long that it begs the question: where do you start?
Defensive backs: As if being without cornerback Charles Woodson was not painful enough, the Raiders lose his replacement, rookie sensation Phillip Buchanon for two months with a broken wrist. Oakland is hopeful of getting Woodson, who fractured a bone in his shoulder in a Week 2 win over Pittsburgh, back for Sunday’s game at Kansas City.
It gets dicier because reserve cornerbacks Terrence Shaw (rib) and Clarence Love (leg) are also less than full strength. With a shortage of healthy defensive backs, the team cannot use its dime defense as freely and that could prompt teams to use more multiple receiver formations.
There are a number of possibilities. For one, try to entice retired Raiders cornerback Eric Allen out of retirement. The team could also resign Derek Combs, whom they waived two weeks ago. Ronald Curry, who the Raiders drafted as a quarterback, is being tried as a corner. So signing him from the practice squad is a possibility. Outside linebacker Eric Johnson could also move to safety. Johnson was a linebacker at Nebraska before the Raiders tried him at safety. Another thing to keep in mind, starting free safety Rod Woodson was a cornerback for his first 11 seasons in the NFL.
Running backs/return game: Backup running back Terry Kirby, who also doubles as the kickoff returner, fractured his right tibia and fibula on the opening play of the second half of Sunday’s loss to San Diego and was placed on injured reserve. The Raiders filled his roster spot by signing Madre Hill from the practice squad.
Buchanon’s injury also affects the Raiders’ punt return game because he has established a threat Oakland lacked since Desmond Howard left as a free agent after the 1998 season. Tim Brown took over the punt return duties Sunday after Buchanon’s injury. Rod Woodson or a healthy Charles Woodson could be used in that capacity but coach Bill Callahan appears reluctant to have players of their magnitude in that role. Backup receivers Marcus Knight and Alvis Whitted could get looked at in that role.