Defensive End Jihad Ward, Cornerback Sean Smith, and Defensive End Mario Edwards Jr.
Some are calling it the best primetime game of the year, others are positing that it could be the biggest game for the Oakland Raiders in the past decade, and while some of that analysis might be a bit hyperbolic in nature, make no mistake about it, there's a lot on the line Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium when the Kansas City Chiefs host the Silver and Black.
At 10-2, the Raiders sit alone atop the AFC West standings, but at 9-3 – and with a Week 6 win over the Silver and Black already in the bag – Andy Reid and Co., are in hot pursuit, and with a win Thursday night, they could take actually over sole possession of first place in the division.
To put it simply; Thursday's game is a big one with some lasting ramifications on the line, but for the players inside the Raiders locker room, the primetime matchup with the Chiefs is just the next game on the schedule.
"Next challenge mindset, that's all," said rookie defensive end Jihad ward. "We're just getting ready for the next game, picked up what our mistakes [were], and just learn from it, and just get better. That's all. It's Thursday Night Football, we're all excited about that, but we just have to not lose focus. We have a goal to reach, and that's making it to the Super Bowl."
"We're excited," added defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. "You wouldn't want to be any place else or play anywhere else or be in this type of position. I think just the excitement and the fact that the guys love playing ball so much, it's going to be a heck of a display of football."
In 2016, the Oakland Raiders have been the definition of road warriors, having won all five are their road games this season, as well as an international "home" game at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
So, while many teams have struggled away from their home stadiums, why have the Raiders barely skipped a beat when playing outside the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum?
"We just have a mindset where people think that we're going to be out of our zone because we're away, but as long as we have each other, we'll feel like we're home," Ward explained. "That's the great thing about this team."
Not only will Head Coach Jack Del Rio's group have to travel to Arrowhead Stadium for their Week 14 primetime clash with the Chiefs, but they'll be going into the game on just three days rest, which admittedly presents some challenges for both teams.
Along with the fact that the Raiders will be just over 96 hours removed from their win over the Buffalo Bills when they kick off against the Chiefs, Thursday night's forecast is projected to be in the teens, but for Ward, the weather won't be an issue.
"Put your gloves on and go to work," Ward said. "It comes from within. I'm from Philadelphia where it gets crazy cold, but I like laying in the cold. That's just my opinion, and we just have to get ready for it, and just go. Rain, sleet, or snow, we just have to give 100 percent."
Kickoff against the Chiefs is scheduled for 5:25 p.m. PT.
Linebacker – Shilique Calhoun – Knee – Did not part.
Linebacker – Cory James – Shoulder – Limited
Safety – Karl Joseph – Toe – Did not part.
Defensive tackle – Darius Latham – Ankle – Did not part.
Defensive tackle – Stacy McGee – Ankle – Did not part.
Guard/tackle – Kelechi Osemele – Knee – Limited
- While the Silver and Black hit the practice field Tuesday afternoon, the day's session was certainly less physical than normal, as the Raiders went through their work without pads or helmets, which isn't all that surprising considering the team is operating on a short week.
- Who says that all Sebastian Janikowski can do is kick? In the minutes before practice started, the veteran kicker showed off another skill that he possesses – juggling. Seabass spent a little time juggling some tennis balls, and I must admit, he's pretty good at it too.
- Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. was back on the practice field again Tuesday afternoon, but linebacker Shilique Calhoun and defensive tackles Darius Latham and Stacy McGee were unable to go through the day's work.
- Derek Carr, Latavius Murray and the Raiders offensive line were at Oracle Arena last night to watch the Golden State Warriors take on the Indiana Pacers. Klay Thompson put on a show, scoring 60 points in just three quarters, and the dynamic shooting guard's performance was the talk of the locker room, with Jalen Richard even demonstrating some of Thompson's moves, using a garbage can as a mock defender.
- The Silver and Black will be back on the practice field tomorrow before flying out to Kansas City in the afternoon in advance of their Thursday night clash with the Chiefs.
The Raiders lost to the Chiefs 26-10 in Week 6, but offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave still believes there is much that can be learned from that game:
"Well, we definitely want to learn from what happened, good, bad and indifferent. We're looking forward to having another shot at them."
Jihad Ward and the rest of the defense are geared up and ready to go for the Raiders primetime matchup:
"We all just treat each game like it's our last. We just treat this game like this is our life on the line. We're just going to take it to the next step and just keep going. I want this game so bad, and we all want it, so we just have to keep doing what we have to do, and take everything one step at a time."
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