While the Browns attempt to capitalize on their recent bye, the Oakland Raiders will try to honor the memory of their fallen leader in front of a crowd clad in silver and black.
Al Davis, the iconic NFL owner whose rebellious personality became a trademark of the Raiders, died Saturday at age 82. A day later, the Raiders responded with an emotional victory on the road against the Houston Texans.
The Raiders (3-2) will host the Browns (2-2) on Sunday.
In the meantime, first-year Raiders coach Hue Jackson is expected to handle personnel decisions until Chief Executive Amy Trask and Mark Davis, Al’s son, hire someone to fill an executive role left by the elder Davis. One of Jackson’s first orders of business concerns making room on the roster for former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, whose five-game suspension has ended.
The Raiders have a one-game roster exemption that will allow Pryor, a third-round pick in the supplemental draft, to practice with the team. The exemption will expire Monday, NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reported, meaning the Raiders must activate Pryor by then and make a corresponding roster move to add him to their 53-man roster.
Of course, the more pressing task for Jackson will be preparing the Raiders for the Browns, who have won three of their past four games following a bye. Both teams are hoping to overcome injuries to key starters. The Browns could be without center Alex Mack (appendectomy on Oct. 3) and cornerback Joe Haden (sprained knee). The Raiders also could be missing a few main pieces, including defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (shoulder) and fullback Marcel Reece (ankle).
Vittorio Tafur covers the Raiders for the San Francisco Chronicle. He discussed the Raiders and their upcoming game against the Browns. Here are some of the highlights from a question-and-answer session with Tafur:
Q: Do you expect the Raiders to be ignited in their first home game since Davis’ death, or could a letdown be lurking?
A: “The players all said that Sunday’s game was the most emotional of their lives, so you would think there would have to be a letdown. Plus, there was a lot of talk early on about how tough the first five games were, so there might be a sigh of relief as well as satisfaction at going a surprising 3-2.”
Q: How does the organization plan to make football decisions moving forward?
A: “They’re going to hire someone in a vice president or general manager role, but until then Jackson will be calling the shots. They have a list of candidates they’re gonna talk to, but I don’t know if there’s a huge need for speed. They’re not really gonna make a lot of moves. They pretty much think they’re set. I think they feel they can probably get by for a while with just having Hue [make decisions], and they have some consultants. Before Al passed, he said that he would have John Madden check in, and Madden hasn’t really talked about it yet. But Madden could be a guy they call for advice or feedback. Ron Wolf is another longtime Davis friend, and I think they probably have his number on speed dial. So I think in the short term, those are the kind of guys they’ll probably turn to if they need advice.”
Q: What has surprised you most about the team?
A: “The patchwork offensive line has only given up five sacks all season. It seems like the key guy has been the new offensive line coach, Bob Wylie. … People really thought the O-line was a huge mess at camp. It was supposed to be one of the biggest issues on the team. But somehow Wylie and those guys have connected, and they’re communicating well. It’s been kind of shocking how well they’ve played.”
Q: What must the Browns do well to win?
A: “The Browns would have to run the ball and contain running back Darren McFadden and the Raiders’ defensive linemen. That’s what makes Oakland tick. [McFadden] was awesome last year, and I think he’s picked up where he left off. I think it was just a case where his first couple years in the league he wasn’t healthy, and people thought he might be a bust. But he’s just a great athlete. He’s extremely fast. People don’t realize he likes to deliver blows and he likes to knock out cornerbacks and safeties. He’s a very physical runner for a guy his size. He has great hands. He can catch the ball. He pretty much does it all. He’s definitely the centerpiece of their team, him and the defensive line. … They’ve got eight guys [they use on the defensive line]. They rotate. They keep fresh. In games this year when they’ve played well, they’ve won. When they haven’t, they’ve lost.”
Q: What do the Browns need to worry about most?
A: “That they can’t get any pressure on quarterback Jason Campbell, and he is able to connect with improved, fast receivers and open the game up. Jacoby Ford was supposed to be their best [receiver] coming into this year, and he was out for a couple weeks with a hamstring injury and they didn’t miss him much. Darrius Heyward-Bey has really had a good year. He’s kind of been labeled a bust until now, but he’s gotten better. He doesn’t have great hands but definitely has worked hard, and he’s made more catches this year. And they love the rookie, Denarius Moore, out of Tennessee, a fifth-round pick. They’ve got Derek Hagan, who’s also been a huge addition, kind of a veteran influence. So they like their receiving corps. It’s probably the best they’ve felt about their receiving corps in a long time.”
Read Vittorio Tafur’s coverage of the Raiders: blog.sfgate.com/raiders. Follow him on Twitter: @VittorioTafur.
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