Believe it or not, the Oakland Raiders are back on the field Thursday night as they'll travel down to Levi's Stadium to kick off Week 9 NFL action against the San Francisco 49ers.
It's been a feverish few days here at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway as we get ready for Thursday Night Football, so you understandably had a bunch of questions regarding the Silver and Black.
Kickoff is fast approaching, so let's get to your questions.
From Daniel Big Dog Madrigal: When are Ellis and Vanderdoes coming back?
EP: Big Dog, welcome to the Mailbag, brother; keep the questions coming. Anyways, on to your query regarding Eddie Vanderdoes and Big Jelly. While Vanderdoes returned to practice last week, per Head Coach Jon Gruden, it doesn't sound like the former UCLA Bruin will return to action Thursday night.
"I think that's a long shot right now," said Gruden when asked about Vanderdoes' availability. "We just activated him. It's been a long layoff for him. He had no offseason program, no padded practices. He's had really one padded practice since he's come back, so we have had some time to evaluate him and get his conditioning right. Perhaps next week, after this game, would be a good time to start thinking more seriously."
So there you have it; we likely won't see No. 94 tomorrow night, but keep an eye on his status against the Los Angeles Chargers. As far as Justin Ellis is concerned, he's eligible to return to practice at any point going forward.
From Alexander Singh: What matchup are you guys looking at against SF?
EP: The big one I'm going to have my eye on Thursday night is whether or not the Raiders can limit the 49ers ground attack.
While the San Francisco offense has collectively struggled to find its footing in 2018 – they rank just 22nd in total offense – the 49ers have been effective all year running the football.
Coming into Thursday's game, the Niners average 133.6 rushing yards per game, good for sixth in the NFL.
Defensively, the Silver and Black gave up over 200 yards on the ground last weekend to the Indianapolis Colts, and I'm sure they'll want to right the ship in a big way at Levi's Stadium.
Particularly with some uncertainty at the quarterback position, the 49ers will most likely lean heavily on their rushing attack; will the Raiders be able to stop them?
We'll find out Thursday.
From John Lewis: How are we going to change the defense from Sunday's game to beat the Niners?
EP: Truthfully, I don't think you look at making wholesale changes headed into Thursday Night Football. Not only are you operating on the short week – a challenge in and of itself – but you're at the point in the season where you want to start to have a bit of cohesion within the starting 11.
I know that when you look at the numbers from Sunday's effort, the stats are a bit jarring, but believe or not, there were stretches – albeit not the lengthiest of stretches – where the defense actually looked pretty solid.
I have the utmost confidence in Paul Guenther and his process; I'm excited to see how his group handles business against the 49ers.
From Kiersten Ogden: Raider Nation always travels well; will we take over Levi's Stadium?!?
EP: We all know how well Raider Nation travels, so yeah, I expect there to be bigtime Raiders contingent tomorrow night at Levi's Stadium.
Will it be a full Raiders takeover the likes of which we've grown accustomed to seeing, particularly in Southern California? Only time will tell, but I believe in you guys.
Kickoff is scheduled for 5:20 pm PST.
The Raiders return to the practice field to prepare for their Week 9 matchup against the 49ers on Thursday Night Football.