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Oakland Raiders: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 8

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Oakland Raiders: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 8
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Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor declined to take a break during the bye last week. Instead, he spent the downtime at the team’s facilities in Alameda getting in some extra work on and off the field with offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

Whether that makes a difference or not in his play remains to be seen. However, at a time he could have been licking his wounds coming off the worst game of his career, Pryor was putting in the time to try to get things turned around in Oakland.

Getting help along the offensive line would be a good place to start.

Fresh off a much-needed four-day break, the Raiders returned to practice on Monday still unsure who will be available to play up front in the Week 8 matchup against Pittsburgh.

These and other topics are worth keeping an eye on in the coming days. To help, here’s a look at some of the things you need to know heading into the Steelers game.

 

Division Standings

AFC West Record
Kansas City Chiefs 7-0
Denver Broncos 6-1
San Diego Chargers 4-3
Oakland Raiders 2-4

The surprising Chiefs won again, this time knocking off the lowly Houston Texans. Coach Andy Reid’s squad, which finished with the worst overall record in 2012, is now the NFL’s lone remaining unbeaten team. And to think, the Raiders had them within range late in the fourth quarter before collapsing. Denver’s bid for perfection ended at the hands of Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, while San Diego beat up on lowly Jacksonville to get back above .500. The Raiders? They didn’t play, which meant they at least picked up ground on the Broncos.

 

Injury Report

Player Injury
Andre Gurode Quad
Tony Pashos Hip Flexor
Stefen Wisniewski Calf strain

Coach Dennis Allen—using the same method he’s employed at various times throughout the season—declined to discuss specific injuries or even whether some of the Raiders players who are hurt were able to practice at all.

What we do know is that the offensive line was in shambles before the bye.

Getting starting center Stefen Wisniewski back would be a big boost. That would allow Andre Gurode and/or Mike Brisiel to move back to their more comfortable positions, provided Gurode has recovered enough from a quad strain.

 

What Must Improve

 

Confidence at QB

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor had clearly lost his way in the loss to the Chiefs, and his confidence reached an all-time low not long after. If the Raiders are to have any chance whatsoever to make a run in the West, they have to keep Pryor’s confidence level up.

Pryor took the loss to Kansas City hard, and he blamed himself for everything that went wrong. That was admirable, because that’s what you want from a quarterback.

What Oakland has to caution against is Pryor getting too down on himself. That could lead to its own set of problems. Look for the game plan against Pittsburgh to focus on the short passing game early, which would help build Pryor’s confidence.

 

O-line

No matter what the health situation is, the offensive line has to play better both in the run game and in protection. A big chunk of the problems Pryor had in Kansas City came from being run down by Chiefs’ defenders before even getting set in the pocket.

Pryor shouldered some of the blame based on his inability to get the ball out sooner. Still, if given even one more second to sit in the pocket, Pryor’s odds for finding an open receiver and completing a pass increase significantly.

 

Notables

Sebastian Janikowski will be a major factor the rest of the way, but the Polish kicker hasn’t exactly proven up for the task this season. Given the uncertainty of the offense, it’s imperative Janikowski turn his season around in a hurry.

First-round pick D.J. Hayden will continue to be the prime target in Oakland’s secondary, even though he’s made significant progress since the start of the season. That’s to be expected. Now the rookie cornerback has to make quarterbacks pay for going at him.

The Raiders had nine sacks in the first two games but only seven since. Though they’ve still been able to get pressure on quarterbacks, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and his players have to finish the deal and start bringing the quarterbacks down.

 

* Any information and quotes used in this story or any story written by Michael Wagaman were obtained first-hand, unless otherwise noted or linked.

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