Good news for the first time in a long time, Raiders fans—Chaz Schilens took part in warmups, drills, and took repetitions with the first team offense in practice on Wednesday in Alameda.
Schilens looked to be the Raiders' best option at wide receiver going into this year, as he was having a great offseason.
In the first preseason game, Chaz caught five of JaMarcus Russell's six completed passes in the first quarter and added a 47-yard pass interference call, in which Schilens made a fantastic adjustment to the ball.
It was the last time Raider Nation would see him on the field until this weekend. Schilens broke his foot in the next week's practice, and has missed eight weeks of action so far.
Schilens should provide a boost to a receiving corps that hasn't done much at all this year, with the exception of Louis Murphy, who has 12 catches, 174 yards, and a touchdown.
The first-round pick, Darrius Heyward-Bey, has done a whole lot of nothing except drop passes. He has been targeted 20 times, and has only two catches to show for it.
Third wideout Todd Watkins has had some good efforts and really shown his athleticism at times, but only has three catches for 48 yards.
You have to add DHB's number and Watkins's numbers together through five games to equal what Schilens was able to do against Dallas' Terrence Newman in one quarter.
I wouldn't be surprised if JaMarcus targets Schilens 20 times in this game. I also would not be a bit surprised if Schilens caught 17 of those targets. I'm not trying to say Schilens is the saving grace for Oakland's offense, but at least his return should excite some people.
This offense needs a spark, and Schilens just might be that guy. He is not supposed to be the big-time playmaker on this offense, with number one overall pick JaMarcus Russell, number four overall pick Darren McFadden, and number seven overall pick Darrius Heyward-Bey, but Schilens is the man on this offense, in spite of his seventh-round status.
In addition to the return of Schilens, the Raiders have re-signed former second-round draft pick from 2002 Langston Walker. Walker is not expected to play this week but could be a viable replacement for Cornell Green before, during, and after his recovery from injury.
Even though he isn't expected to start, Langston Walker should provide some veteran leadership to an offensive line that appears to be lost without Robert Gallery. Walker has been around the block a time or two. He may be able to light a fire underneath the group of underachievers, even if only in practice.
Oakland FB Oren O'Neal was "waived/injured" to make room for Walker's return. If he clears waivers, he will be placed on the Raiders' injured reserve list for the second consecutive year.
Marcel Reece was called up from the practice squad to replace O'Neal, but is not expected to be activated for Sunday's game. Luke Lawton is suffering from an ankle injury and did not practice Wednesday. HB/FB Gary Russell was taking first-team repetitions.
Robert Gallery did not practice, nor did Greg Ellis, who is still recovering from having an arthritic knee drained. Ellis is expected to play, but Gallery is most likely out at least another week.
Jon Alston was practicing, and is expected to start strong side linebacker on Sunday. Sam Williams will be his backup.
Hopefully, the return of Schilens is just what the doctor ordered for Oakland's bleak offense. I doubt that Louis Murphy will start over DHB (which is foul), so it could be just another hapless Sunday of Oakland football for the Raiders.
Hey, maybe with Schilens on the roster, Michael Bush will get more than his average 8.4 carries. Oh, who am I kidding? All of this stuff makes no difference at all...I won't get my hopes up.