As the clock winds down to Sunday’s kickoff in Minnesota, let’s take a quick look at the matchup this week. Both teams are missing key players on both sides of the ball, but none more key that Minnesota’s veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield. Although he’s not on the team’s official injury report yet he is not expected to play. His backup, Chris Cook, is sidelined for disciplinary reasons (specifically choking his girlfriend and missing a game while incarcerated), leaving Asher Allen to start in his place. Drafted out of Georgia in 2009 after his junior year by the Vikings, Allen has yet to see extensive playing time in the NFL. In college he was used primarily as a strong side corner but where he excelled was kickoff returns. He is known for his aggressive, heads-up ball play but lacks in speed. If there’s one thing the Raiders receiving corps has it’s speed, and LOTS of it. I see this being a huge determining factor in this game. The Vikings are already one of the worst secondaries in the league and without Winfield they should be sucking hard. Other key Viking injuries include:
Christian Ponder: hand
Michael Jenkins: knee
Husain Abdullah: concussion
It should be noted that Ponder’s injury is to his non-throwing hand and he was a full participant in Wednesdays practice. Jenkins was limited and is likely to play as the Vikes don’t have much depth at WR.
The Raiders are going to be yet again without the services of DMac, who is still out with an ankle injury for the 4th straight week in a row, even with a bye in between giving him almost 5 weeks to recover. Fortunately the Raiders have the best one-two running back duos in the league in McFadden and Bush. Where the Raiders are hurting is in the secondary. With both rookie corners Chekwa and Van Dyke out with hamstring injuries for last week’s matchup vs. the Chargers, the team was forced to sign yet another cornerback before the game. Lito Sheppard came right in and started with just a few days practice with his new team. So far he has been a solid addition and is expected to start this Sunday again. Chekwa and Van Dyke’s injuries have both improved and it’s quite possible both will be ready to go if needed. Other key injuries include:
Richard Seymour: knee
Samson Satele: knee
Jacoby Ford: foot
Sebastian Janikowski: hamstring
Michael Huff: ankle
This isn’t even half the list, just the most important ones. Huff was limited in practice though, so that’s a positive note. If he’s able to play it will be a huge upgrade from Giordano, who has been filling in during his absence. It needs to be noted that the tenacious defensive end Matt Shaughnessy was placed on IR back on October 19. Ex-Bronco first-round pick Jarvis Moss has filled in nicely in his absence, recording several sacks of his own.
The Raiders will be facing some pass-heavy offenses in Detroit and Green Bay over the next few weeks so I hope the slew of injuries to the secondary have had time to heal by then. Also, without Seymour in the middle it’s going to be even more crucial the McClain step up and play to the caliber he is capable of in order to stop Adrian Peterson. I still say we blow this one out. Raiders win 35 – 20.
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