Rod Marinelli vs. the odds
Jon Gruden described his new interim defensive coordinator as one that "thrives under pressure."
Queen and David Bowie couldn't be under much more pressure than Rod Marinelli and this Raiders defense Thursday night in Allegiant Stadium.
It has been confirmed that Johnathan Abram (concussion), Damon Arnette (concussion/neck), Clelin Ferrell (shoulder) and Nicholas Morrow (concussion) have all been ruled out for Thursday's game. Jeff Heath was also placed on IR last week, leaving the odds stacked against the Silver and Black's defense against a dynamic Chargers offense.
Fortunately, Las Vegas is the best place to bet against the odds.
The Raiders organization has been vocal about the confidence they have in Marinelli. They have been pleased with the job he's done commanding the attention and respect of his defense since joining the coaching staff as a defensive line coach earlier this season.
"Everybody responds well to Rod," Coach Gruden said. "They have before. It's not like he's a new guy coming in here. He gets the correct response. People trust him, and he'll do a good job. It will be a tall order for him obviously, and our defense, but I know we're looking forward to the challenge and got a lot of respect for the Chargers."
Josh Jacobs vs. the Chargers run defense
One phase affects the other: The Raiders will need to take up as much time with the ball as they can get.
They can accomplish that with workhorse running back Josh Jacobs, who's getting healthier after he suffered an ankle injury against the Jets a couple of weeks ago. Last Sunday, Jacobs returned and benefited from getting Trent Brown back, racking up 74 yards of total offense. Coach Gruden hopes that the offense can return to being productive running the ball against the Chargers, who have the 21st best run defense in the NFL this season.
"Josh has been banged up. Our fullback has been banged up and our third-down back has been banged up, but I think they're all healthy now," said Gruden. "We need to run the ball, stay committed to it. The Chargers don't give you any yards, now. You got to work hard to get the ball forward, move the ball on the ground in this league, and we're going to continue to work at it. We're good at it, and we need to get more production from it."
No. 28 ran for 65 yards and a touchdown in his Week 9 meeting with the Chargers.
Derek Carr vs. Joey Bosa
Carr has faced some elite pass rushers this season, and now it's time for him to see Joey Bosa once again.
In their last matchup, Carr threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the Raiders win. Bosa was out of action that game with a concussion. When healthy, Bosa has tallied 7.5 sacks this season. So even though the All-Pro defensive end is currently dealing with a shin injury and has been limited in practice, he's expected to line up Thursday night.
"Joey is one of the top, best pass rushers in our game," said Derek Carr. "He's unbelievable at the things he's able to do. I have nothing but respect for him, he knows that. ... I expect Joey to be at his best. Again, he's one of the best in the league and it's always a fun battle with him and our offensive line."
Joey Bosa got a sack and two quarterback hits on Derek Carr the last time he faced him in a 24-17 loss to the Raiders last December.
The Silver and Black begin preparations for their Thursday Night Football matchup against the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers with a walkthrough at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center.