Justin Ellis called it a "will game."
And Sunday's matchup between the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is certainly shaping up to be a battle between two goliaths in the trenches, as the Bills currently boast the top rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 157.4 yards per game on the ground.
While the Raiders defense is allowing just under 117 yards per game on the ground, the group is just a few weeks removed from stifling the Denver Broncos, allowing just 33 rushing yards in the Week 9 win.
However, the group has now allowed their opponents to hit the century mark on the ground in back-to-back weeks, and Ellis knows that if the Raiders want to derail the Bills offensive onslaught, it's going to start up front.
"We got our hands full," said Ellis. "They do a lot of different things – a more collegiate-type style offense – everybody can run the ball on offense. We have our hands full, but we're up for the challenge."
Not only do the Bills have a four-time Pro Bowler in LeSean McCoy taking up residence in the backfield, but they also have the luxury of having a mobile quarterback in Tyrod Taylor who's able to take off and run at the drop of a hat.
Taylor has thrown for 11 touchdowns this season, but he's also added five on the ground, and ranks second on the team with 439 rushing yards, trailing just McCoy for the team lead in both those categories.
"They have two running backs in the backfield, elusive guys, and this guy in particular [Taylor] can throw the ball real well," said defensive end Khalil Mack. "It's going to be a real challenge for us."
"He's able to extend plays" Ellis added. "It's hard for a [defensive back] to cover up somebody for more than five seconds, so with him being able to extend plays, it helps the offense a lot."
Taylor has shown to be an improved passer throughout his second full season in Buffalo, but make no mistake about it, Rex Ryan's recipe for success has remained consistent in 2016, and it all starts with controlling the clock, and running the ball successfully.
"They really do everything that I can think of that I've ever seen in the run game, they have it one form or fashion," explained Head Coach Jack Del Rio. "They basically throw the gauntlet at you. They've got a formation thing and they see how you're wanting to play it. Then they've got a series of plays they get to and they're very good at it. Number one in the league, and that's saying something."
Sunday's matchup at the OACC is a game – like many this season – that will be won in the trenches, and Ellis and the rest of the Raiders defensive linemen are looking forward to the challenge.
"It's one of those games where you just have to stand up and man versus man, who's bigger than who," Ellis said. "Who can play better the whole game?"
We'll find out the answer to that question Sunday afternoon; kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
Cornerback – David Amerson – Knee – Limited
Linebacker – Shilique Calhoun – Knee – Did not participate
Quarterback – Derek Carr – Right Finger – Full
Wide Receiver – Michael Crabtree – Ankle – Limited
Cornerback – DJ Hayden – Hamstring – Did not participate
Center – Rodney Hudson – Knee – Limited
Defensive Tackle – Darius Latham – Ankle – Did not participate
Defensive Tackle – Stacy McGee – Ankle – Did not participate
Running Back – Latavius Murray – Ankle – Limited
Guard/Tackle – Kelechi Osemele – Knee – Limited
Linebacker – Perry Riley, Jr. – Hamstring – Limited
Linebacker – Malcolm Smith – Hamstring – Limited
-After a dominating performance Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Panthers, the NFL announced Wednesday morning that Khalil Mack had been named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
-The biggest question surrounding Wednesday's practice would be if Derek Carr was going to be in attendance, and if so, would he be a full participant? Well, the answer to both questions was a resounding "yes." The Raiders third-year signal-caller was a full participant in Wednesday's session, going through drills without any visible hindrance.
-While Carr was indeed back on the field Wednesday, the same could not be said for four of his teammates, as linebacker Shilique Calhoun, cornerback DJ Hayden, and defensive tackles Darius Latham and Stacy McGee were unable to go.
-Whether in an ode to pop icon Michael Jackson, or a show of solidarity with his quarterback, or maybe just because it was a little chilly Wednesday afternoon, Head Coach Del Rio sported a glove on his right hand throughout practice.
Is Derek Carr surprised by the success that former Raider Lorenzo Alexander has found in Buffalo this season? Not at all.
"We still talk because he's such a great guy. I mean, you guys know, you guys talked to him. He's a professional, he's a great person off the field and obviously I wish him the best besides this week. But, I'm not surprised because I know how hard he plays. We watched him on special teams so many times running down there like he could care less how his body felt. To watch him do what he's doing now, I'm not surprised at all."
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