No. 61 was a welcome sight at Thursday afternoon's practice in the rain at the Oakland Raiders Alameda, Calif., facility. Center Rodney Hudson returned to practice, albeit on a limited basis, after aggravating his ankle injury against the Detroit Lions. Hudson originally injured the ankle late in the Raiders loss at Pittsburgh.
Hudson was the centerpiece to the Raiders free agent haul when the signing period opened back in March. Hudson played in 32 games with 31 starts for the Kansas City Chiefs before coming to Oakland. He has started all nine games he's played in this year. He has been a huge factor in four of the Raiders five wins this year, making the protection calls and propelling the running game. His ability to pull and block downfield have added a dimension to both the running game and the screen game in the passing offense.
By all accounts backup center Tony Bergstrom has filled in admirably.
"I think for the most part Tony [Bergstrom]'s done a pretty good job of filling in," Head Coach Jack Del Rio said Monday. "Rodney is a Pro Bowl-level player in my opinion. So when you're missing him, yeah, you're missing one of your better players. But we feel like we have a good group."
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave agreed with his head coach when asked Thursday if Hudson's absence has affected the running game.
"Tony [Bergstrom] stepped right in and has done a nice job," Musgrave said. "We felt great about when Tony's been in there."
The Raiders take on the Chiefs, Hudson's former team, this Sunday in a critical matchup with playoff implications.
We will keep you updated on Hudson's status all the way up until game time.