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Pick Six: Aidan O'Connell has previously enjoyed success in the state of Indiana

1. AOC back in IND

Quarterback Aidan O'Connell is returning to the state where he made a name for himself.

Lucas Oil Stadium is roughly 70 miles south of Ross–Ade Stadium, which O'Connell called home as a Purdue Boilermaker. As a walk-on, O'Connell climbed the depth chart to become the full-time starter by his redshirt junior season. During his time in West Lafayette, Indiana, he threw for 9,219 passing yards with a 65:30 touchdown to interception ratio.

Since the Raiders rookie quarterback has taken over as the full-time starter in Week 9, he's thrown for 1,362 yards and seven touchdowns with a 4-3 record.

"Week to week there's so much that goes into each game that requires you to go out there and perform well,"O'Connell said Wednesday, evaluating his season. "So, I think you have to work as hard as possible each day, each week to give yourself a chance when the game comes around."

2. The task of Taylor

Colts running back Jonathan Taylor must be public enemy No. 1 for the Raiders defense.

In his three career games played against the Silver and Black, he's averaged 135 rushing yards a game with four rushing touchdowns. He'll likely take the heavy lifting in their rushing attack Sunday as Zach Moss has been ruled out (forearm).

"You want to make him one-dimensional. We feel good about our guys up front of doing that," Pierce said Friday. "We did a good job last week. We have to do that consistently this week. They'll stay with the running game though. That's the biggest difference from week to week. Certain teams would shy away from it. This team is going to do it all the way to the fourth quarter."

3. "Hit them in the mouth"

The defense has been utterly dominant lately.

The Raiders defense ranks at the top of the league in fewest-points allowed (15.3) and defensive touchdowns (four) since Week 9. Also in that span, the unit is tied for fifth-most sacks (24) and sixth-most takeaways (13). What's been the message in the locker room?

"We're going to hit them in the mouth," said cornerback Jack Jones. "That's Raider football. That's our game plan. We've got to hit them in the mouth and make them feel us every play. Make them think about where they want to run."

4. Injury update

The Las Vegas Raiders will once again be with rookie tight end Michael Mayer, who's dealing with a toe injury. All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs has been ruled doubtful, with the likelihood of missing a third straight game.

5. Zeus loading?

If Jacobs can't suit up against the Colts, hopefully the Raiders offense won't miss a beat with Zamir White. The second-year running back from Georgia is coming off the best NFL game of his career with 145 rushing yards.

"[Josh Jacobs] is our starting running back, that's not even a question, but Zamir is opening up some eyes," said interim head coach Antonio Pierce. "I think he's taking advantage of the opportunity and that's the National Football League, right? You give him a play or two, or several weeks to make the most out of, and he's done just that.

"I think he's earned the trust, the belief with our offensive staff and our O-line. I think that's huge when you get in the game the way he did last week. His style of running, it's an explosive running back coming downhill."

6. What happened last time

The Raiders have a 10-9 all-time regular season record against the Indianapolis Colts. This'll being the sixth straight season they've faced off and the two teams have alternated wins in each matchup over the five-year span.

If the trend holds up, the odds are in the favor of the Silver and Black. In Week 17 of the 2021 season, the Raiders left Lucas Oil Stadium with a 23-20 victory.

View the best photos from the Silver and Black's Friday practice at Intermountain Health Performance Center.

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