Raiders.com Mailbag: Are The Young Running Backs Up For The Challenge In Buffalo?

The Oakland Raiders got a big, big win last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, and now they've shifted their focus to their Week 8 game against the Buffalo Bills.

The Silver and Black will try to be the first visiting team in 2017 to walk into New Era Field and emerge victorious, which will certainly be no easy task against a very well-coached Bills squad.

Entering Week 8, you had a bunch of questions on all things related to the Raiders, so here's this week's edition of the Raiders.com Mailbag.

From @bigpapishowtime: When is Obi going to get some playing time?

EP:A great question. So here's the deal; while Melifonwu is still technically on the reserve/injured list, he has been back at practice since October 17. If the rookie safety is healthy enough – and we've been given every indication that he is – Melifonwu can be promoted back to the active roster prior to next week's game against the Miami Dolphins. If that is indeed the case, the Raiders will still have the option to activate one more player from the reserve/injured list if they so choose. As far as when Melifonwu actually gets some run on the gridiron, that decision lies squarely on the shoulders of Head Coach Jack Del Rio and the medical staff. I'll say this though, I'm pretty sure Melifonwu's return – whenever it may be – will be cause for celebration throughout Raider Nation. I think we're all excited to see what the rookie brings to the table.

**From Bo P: Will our offense change a lot without Marshawn Lynch?

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EP:Will the offense look a little different without No. 24 lining up in the backfield? Certainly, but I don't know if I'd say that the offense as a whole will change a lot this week against the Bills. Even without Lynch's services, the Raiders still have a tandem of very capable running backs in Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington, and while they've been primarily change-of-pace backs this year, they also have experience carrying the load of the rushing responsibilities. They did it last year when Latavius Murray was on the mend, and I expect them to be just fine doing it Sunday. For a little depth, the team also promoted rookie running back to the active roster from the practice squad, and don't forget about Jamize Olawale. He might not get a ton of carries, but historically, he makes the most of his opportunities. The Bills are stout against the run, so the entire collective of Raiders backs will have their hands full, but I don't think things will look too drastically different without Lynch in the fold.

From @THEUKRAIDER: what player/players have been the most impressive recently and what do they bring to the team?

EP:Week in and week out we know – for the most part – what to expect from the Raiders stars. Derek Carr will lead the team's offense, Amari Cooper will be his usual, explosive self, and Khalil Mack will make life difficult for the opposing offensive line. The Raiders elite players deservingly get a lot of praise throughout the year, so I'll give you two guys that have had really strong 2017 seasons that might be flying a tad under the radar. Offensively, let's give a little shine to the man in the middle, center Rodney Hudson. The powerful center is not only the anchor of the offensive line, but one thing that goes a little underappreciated as far as No. 61 is concerned is his consistency. Hudson hasn't missed a game since 2015, and his presence is a big reason why the Raiders have been so successful on the offensive side of the ball in recent years. Defensively, I'm going to go with TJ Carrie. Since joining the Silver and Black, Carrie has been asked to fill myriad roles on the defense, as well as be a major contributor on special teams as well. The former Ohio Bobcat is a consummate professional, and while he might not be the flashiest player out there, he's one of those guys who just gets the job done.

From @TinalMitchell66: How is our QB healing?

EP:Let's take a look at Derek Carr's stat line from last week, shall we? When all was said and done, and the Raiders had put the finishing touches on one of the more exciting wins in recent history, Carr had completed 29 of 52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns, with an overall quarterback rating of 101.2. Now, at this point in the season, there probably isn't a player in the NFL who is *completely *healthy, but I wouldn't be too concerned about "DC's" prognosis going forward.

From @MicoMyster: Buffalo then onto Miami. Is this a chance to get the team to gel, somewhat like a second training camp?

EP:I think so, yeah. For the better part of the next two weeks, Head Coach Jack Del Rio's squad will be the epitome of road warriors, playing the Buffalo Bills Sunday, then setting up shop for the week in Sarasota, Fla., before taking on the Miami Dolphins in primetime on Sunday Night Football. With the shift in location for a week, the Silver and Black will more or less be sequestered away from any possible distractions that are in play throughout a normal week. Now, it certainly won't be like a training camp in *all *respects – there will unsurprisingly be less time on the practice field than there was in late-July – but there will no doubt be a training camp feel for sure. Time away from the facility, and the normal grind of the football season can either help or hurt a team, and if last year's stay in Florida is any indication, this little break from the norm could be very beneficial for the Silver and Black.

From Kiersten O: Will the weather play a role in the game against the Bills?

EP:Well, that's a question a lot of folks have had this week, but the fact of the matter is that we just won't know until we get closer to kickoff. As of now, the weather in Buffalo calls for morning showers before clearing up in the afternoon, but Upstate New York is notorious for being a tad fickle when it comes to the weather. If for whatever reason it does rain throughout the game, the Raiders are prepared; among other things, Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing said that the team regularly practices with wet footballs, even when the forecast doesn't call for inclement weather. We're approaching the part of the year when weather can play a role in a game, so we'll just have to wait and see if that is indeed the case Sunday at New Era Field.

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