By Dave Thomas
As the Los Angeles Chargers prepare to meet one of their most hated AFC West rivals on Sunday, questions have hung in the air about the weather for the game’s site.
Given the deadly fires this last week in Northern California, the NFL was considering the idea of moving the game to another NFL stadium due to the air quality in the greater Oakland area. As of Friday, the game was still on as scheduled for Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Several Oakland players reportedly practiced with masks on during the week to help with their breathing.
With that being the backdrop, both teams will look to build something come Sunday.
Building On Success
For the Chargers, last Sunday’s 27-22 win at the New York Giants meant the team’s first victory of the season. That said, it did come at the expense of another 0-4 team at the time.
Meanwhile, the Raiders opened the season with a pair of wins, only to drop their last three straight.
With starting quarterback Derek Carr suffering a back injury two weekends ago in Denver, the Raiders were without his services in last Sunday’s 30-17 home loss to Baltimore. According to Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio, Carr (listed as questionable on the team’s injury report) is projected to be able to play come Sunday.
Heading into this season, Oakland was picked by NFL prognosticators as one of the AFC teams with a chance of dethroning Super Bowl champ New England. Through five weeks, the Raiders sit at 2-3, three games behind unbeaten division leader Kansas City.
For Los Angeles, a win over Oakland would be big in giving the team confidence heading into a showdown next Sunday at home with another long-time AFC rival, the Denver Broncos. Considering Los Angeles finishes the month out with a road date at New England, stealing a win in Oakland this weekend would be big.
Trying To Stay Healthy As Season Moves Along
Ask any NFL head coach and he will tell you that avoiding injuries at all turns is huge in how your season can play out.
When the New York Giants lost multiple receivers in their game with Los Angeles last Sunday, it all but spelled the first win of the season for the Bolts. Flash-forward a week later – the Chargers head into Oakland in relatively good shape.
Wide receiver Dontrelle Inman got in a full practice to end the week, having been battling a hamstring injury.
Inman, who caught 58 passes a year ago for 810 yards and four scores, gives quarterback Philip Rivers another target to throw to besides starter Keenan Allen. To date this season, Inman has a paltry two catches for nine yards in four games.
Meanwhile, it is no secret that the Los Angeles running game has been anything but spectacular the last couple of seasons.
When you take starter Melvin Gordon out of the equation, this team’s rushing attack is downright horrid. Even when Gordon has been in the last year or so, the Chargers have oftentimes struggled to run the ball. That is where having a healthy Branden Oliver can make a difference.
Having battled a hamstring injury, Oliver has rushed for only 58 yards on 17 carries in four games. If Oliver (full practice this past Friday) can get himself healthy, he takes some of the pressure off of Gordon to deliver 100-yard rushing games.
To date through five games, the Chargers have rushed for 394 yards, with opponents tallying 806 yards on the ground.
Los Angeles reported the following injury update as of Friday:
- (ILB) Nick Dzubnar (Elbow) – Full Practice
- (WR) Dontrelle Inman (Hamstring) – Full Practice
- (S) Adrian Phillips (Neck) – Full Practice
- (OT) Joe Barksdale (Foot) – Limited Practice
- (OLB) Jatavis Brown (Ankle) – Full Practice
- (RB) Branden Oliver (Hamstring) – Full Practice
- (WR) Mike Williams (Back) – Limited Practice