Secondary vs. the injury bug
It seems that the Silver and Black's secondary is on its last leg going into Sunday's game against the Colts.
Last Sunday's win against the Jets was a hard-fought battle that saw the Raiders secondary more depleted than they have been at any point this season. Johnathan Abram (knee) and Isaiah Johnson (groin) were ruled out before the game, and Damon Arnette (concussion) and Lamarcus Joyner joined them on the sidelines during the game as well. These injuries caused defensive coordinator Paul Guenther to depend on the efforts of his bench in rookie Amik Robertson, Keisean Nixon and special-teams ace Dallin Leavitt.
The remaining healthy members of the secondary must do everything in their power to stay that way against the Colts. Some good news along the way is that Abram was able to return to practice Wednesday in limited capacity.
Key pieces are going to be needed more than ever if Abram, Johnson and/or Arnette are all ruled out against the Colts. In a game of this magnitude with playoff implications on the line, every player counts.
Darren Waller vs. Darius Leonard
D Wall is coming off a career game in MetLife Stadium. He went for 200 yards, 13 receptions and two touchdowns against the Jets, making him the sixth tight end in NFL history to have at least 200 yards receiving in a game.
While Waller is looking forward to capitalizing on the momentum of last week's juggernaut performance, the Colts have an answer for him on the other side of the ball, in who many consider is the best young linebacker in the league — Darius Leonard.
Leonard came out of the gate strong as ever his 2018 rookie season from South Carolina State, leading the league in tackles, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year and being selected to the Pro Bowl. In his third season with the Colts, the All-Pro linebacker leads the team in tackles (57) and has become the captain and the backbone of a Colts defense ranked 8th in the league against the pass.
"[Leonard's] an incredible linebacker sideline to sideline," said Darren Waller. "Can run, can hit, great at knocking the ball out. He brings the energy and it looks like he's having fun — that defense is having fun — playing football. As far as linebackers go, he's as good as they come."
Derek Carr vs. Philip Rivers
This is not the first time you've seen it — just the latest.
Derek Carr's quarterback duels with Philip Rivers have been routine since Carr was drafted was in 2014, but this year it just hits a little different. Rivers, in his 16th NFL season, has decided to trade in his powder blue and gold for royal blue and white.
"He has more fun playing football than most guys I know," said Coach Jon Gruden. "He has a passion about him that's rare, and I know he wants to beat us in the worst way."
The eight-time Pro Bowler has commanded the Indianapolis Colts to a 8-4 record, throwing for 3,263 passing yards and 18 touchdowns this season. Despite the 39-year-old playing banged up this season, he's behind an elite offensive line that's been able to keep him protected, much like Carr.
"I have nothing but respect for Philip," Carr said. "Philip knows our franchise very well, obviously, and I think he's a Hall of Fame quarterback. He's one of the best to ever play."
"Anytime you go against him, you got to be ready for a shootout."
The Raiders return to Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as they prepare for their Week 14 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts at Allegiant Stadium.