Photo by Tony Gonzales
Three games in 15 days.
From Weeks 10 to 12, that's the challenge that was laid out for Interim Head Coach Tony Sparano and his players. Beginning with a home match-up against Peyton Manning and the Broncos on November 9th, the Silver and Black then traveled to San Diego and will wrap up their busy stretch when they host the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football.
To prepare his team to play on the short week, Coach Sparano made several adjustments to the weekly schedule; for instance, practicing on Monday, which is typically a day of recovery and film work.
Not only does playing on Thursday night condense the week of film study and preparation, but after the rigors of 10 NFL games, the quick turnaround can present physical challenges to the players as well.
Rookie quarterback Derek Carr spoke about how his body is holding up through this stretch during his weekly press conference on Monday.
"Obviously, with any season, there are always bumps and bruises," said Carr. "But as long as I am out there, that's a good thing. You just keep playing. There is always going to be something with everybody, but you just keep battling through it."
Carr's teammate and fellow rookie Justin Ellis is also going through his first NFL experience of preparing for a game on a short week, and in addition to making sure he gets his body as healthy as possible, he stressed the importance of getting in film work even when he's away from the facility.
"The biggest thing is you have to do extra when you're at home," Ellis said. "You have to make sure when you're at home you study a lot of film and get to know your opponent by yourself."
Second-year tight end Brian Leonhardt also spoke about the importance of recovery time with so few days in between games.
"It's really about trying to recover as much as possible from the game on Sunday," he said. "Then taking a more condensed form of getting all of your film work, all of your study review, done early in those few days we have until the game."
C.J. Wilson is in his fifth year in the NFL and has played on a short week on numerous occasions. He said that, in addition to the challenges of simply having less time to accomplish all that needs to be done throughout the week, the hardest part is making sure that his body is able to perform with such few days for recovery.
However, Wilson said that the team has been put in the best situation possible to make sure fatigue is not a factor on Thursday night.
"The strength coach [John Grieco] did a great job of preparing us," he said. "He told us, 'get a lot of sleep. Get as much sleep as possible,' and drink as many fluids as you can and eat the right food. You have no days off, so you have to eat the right foods, carb-load and hydrate. Hydration and sleep are the most important things you can do."
Wilson also knows what a win for the team would mean at this point in the season, and he said that come Thursday night, the Raiders will be ready to play.
"We know what's at stake this week, and we're still looking for that first win," Wilson said. "It's a short week, but we have no excuses on Thursday because we feel like we're ready."