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.”
Raiders vs. Steelers
WHEN: Oct. 27, 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: O.Co Coliseum, Oakland
TV: CBS (KPIX, Ch. 5)
RADIO: KGMZ (95.7 FM)