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Raiders Mailbag: The Antonio Pierce effect, scouting the Colts and more questions answered

Doug Ashby from Texas asks:

"Has the toughness of AP inspired the defense?"

Not just the defense, but the entire roster.

The Raiders are showing they understand the physicality of play, energy and passion Interim Head Coach Antonio Pierce has preached to the team. Since Pierce assumed the role in Week 9, the Raiders have allowed under 16 points a game to opposing teams and scored a franchise-record 63 points against the Chargers in Week 15.

There's a lot to unpack as to why the team has responded so well. One potential reason being he can relate to the locker room as a former Pro Bowl linebacker and wants the team to take the "playing free" mentality he himself had as a player.

"Coach AP allows everybody to go out there and be themselves and play football and have the love for the game," Jack Jones said after Monday's win. "We're professional athletes, we've been doing this for years, we understand the do's and dont's. With Coach AP allowing us play, you can see it through the team. It's noticeable."

"I love the guy. I love what he's brought," Davante Adams said of Pierce. "I love his mentality. His passion for the game is undeniable, you can see that everyday. His evolution even as far as speaking to the team. ... You got to learn how to lead men and he's done a great job of that."

Jose Garza from Pennsylvania asks:

"Will Jacobs start vs. the Colts?"

According to Antonio Pierce, Josh Jacobs was close to suiting up against the Chiefs but was ruled out prior to kickoff "in the best interest" of the running back's health. Jacobs missed his second straight game due to a quad injury.

While Jacobs returning against the Colts is a possibility, the Silver and Black have won games in his absence thanks to contributions from Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden. The trio has combined for 282 rushing yards and two touchdowns in that span with White recording a career-high 145 rushing yards against the Chiefs.

"If you're a good player and you're producing and helping us win, you win," Pierce said Monday of White's uptick in snaps. "But don't get it fooled, Josh Jacobs is one of the best running backs in the National Football League. If we have somebody who can help us out and contribute, it's going to be right in that room, and Zeus [Zamir White] knows that. It was really good to see him finish the game the way he finished. Very strong, very violent, very explosive. Everything we've been seeing in practice came to fruition."

Lois Ayash asks:

"Any specific plans on offense vs. the Colts?"

The Raiders offense will need to be better in the passing game.

Under the windy, slippery weather conditions in Kansas City, Aidan O'Connell finished the day with 62 passing yards. But the Silver and Black still found a way to win on the ground and through defensive efforts.

"[O'Connell] understood it was a team game, and yesterday wasn't his day. The rest of the team carried him, and that's fine," Pierce said of O'Connell's Week 16 showing. "That's OK. There's going to be days where this young man is going to have an opportunity to carry a team and this organization, and we're going to lean on him elsewhere. ... Just be nice and calm and under control and manage the game and don't turn the ball over."

As Pierce pointed out, the rookie quarterback didn't commit any turnovers against the Chiefs. O'Connell himself is hoping to respond in a big way against a Colts defense that has totaled 15 interceptions and allowed an average 220.7 passing yards per game.

"Obviously I didn't have my best game and we didn't do much offensively in the pass game," O'Connell said. "I think it's week-to-week, trying to improve as much as possible. Trying to execute when Sunday or whenever the game comes around."

View director of photography Michael Clemens' top picks of black and white photos from the Raiders' Week 16 win against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

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