ALAMEDA — Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen is taking a different approach to the bye week this year.
Almost half the team was excused from the first practice of this season’s bye week as Allen gave almost all of the team’s veterans and injured players time away from the field.
After the team held morning meetings, the veterans got some rest and treatment while the younger players held a short practice to tune up the passing game and clean up some mistakes. That’s a contrast to last year’s approach, when Oakland held mostly full practices during its week off in Allen’s first year as coach.
“I just felt like with where we’re at as a football team, especially with the health of the football team, that I thought it was important for the veteran players to get some time to really take care of their bodies and get themselves back healthy and ready to go for next week,” Allen said Tuesday.
The Raiders (2-4) are riddled with injuries and were forced to cobble together a makeshift offensive line in Sunday’s 24-7 loss at Kansas City. Guard Mike Brisiel was forced to play at center after backup Andre Gurode left the game with an injury with starter Stefen Wisniewski already hurt. That gave rookie Lamar Mady his first offensive action as a pro at right guard.
Matt McCants, who played only a handful of snaps before starting against San Diego on Oct. 6, was forced back into action at right tackle after Tony Pashos got hurt.
The Raiders have already had to move Khalif Barnes from right tackle to left tackle because of injuries to Jared Veldheer and Menelik Watson, and Lucas Nix made just his fourth career start at left guard.
Running backs Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings also are nursing hamstring injuries, putting the bye week at a most opportune time.
“It’s very important,” receiver Rod Streater said. “I think it’s going to help get some linemen back. Just any nicks and bruises we have the week off will help us out.”
That led Allen to make the decision to keep his veterans out of practice as only 36 of the 61 players on the active roster and practice squad took part in the abbreviated workout.
That included all the quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends, leading to a heavy emphasis on the passing game. Most of the time was spent in 7-on-7 passing drills with linemen doing individual work on the side.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are banged-up, a lot of the veteran guys,” Allen said. “We need those guys to get their bodies back, get their minds back. We’ll give them a little bit of time, but we’re still bringing them in, still meeting with them and spending a lot of time in the training room.”
The other focus this week is mental as a young Raiders team tries to learn how to win games. Oakland has been in position to win five of the six games this season with the only blowout coming in Week 3 in Denver.
The Raiders faltered late in losses to Washington and Kansas City as they made too many key mistakes at the most inopportune times.
“We’ve given ourselves opportunities to win games. We’ve got to continue to put ourselves in those types of positions,” Allen said. “The more we do that, the more experience we get with that, the better we’re going to react to those situations and we’ll begin to win some of these games and come out on the plus side instead of having to come back and make some adjustments after tough losses.”
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