Raiders' McCants makes second start
Oakland right tackle Matt McCants isn't making too much of his matchup this week against Pittsburgh linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
Not that the Raiders rookie has anything against Woodley. He's just trying to keep it all in perspective.
Three weeks after making his first NFL start against one of the league's top defenses in Kansas City, McCants draws the unenviable task of trying to slow down the Steelers' best pass-rusher when the two teams play Sunday in Oakland.
''Obviously Woodley's a great player,'' McCants said. ''It's all about preparation, trying to study what he does. You just try to study his tendencies and get little hints on him because he is a great player.''
The two players couldn't be at more opposite ends of the spectrum.
Entering his seventh season with Pittsburgh, Woodley is already fifth on the franchise's all-time sacks list. McCants, conversely, is still in the infancy of his career and wasn't even on the Raiders roster when the season began.
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound McCants was cut by the New York Giants in late August before being signed to Oakland's practice squad on Sept. 2. Five days later, after a rash of injuries to Oakland's offensive line, he was added to the team's 53-man roster.
He made his first start in Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers after an injury sidelined starter Tony Pashos. Pashos returned the following week but was knocked out again with a hip flexor in the Raiders' 24-7 loss to Kansas City on Oct. 13.
Pashos has not returned to practice since and is doubtful to play against the Steelers.
That leaves McCants to face Woodley.
Pittsburgh's veteran outside linebacker has 57 career sacks in 89 games for the NFL's sixth-ranked defense. Woodley has had a sack in every game but one this season.
McCants has yet to give up a sack this season and has allowed only two quarterback hurries.
''It's tough to say they're going to take advantage of me,'' McCants said. ''(Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau) has been around forever so obviously they know what they're doing. They're real sound in their schemes. It's all about us taking care of what we can do.''
McCants was pressed into duty because Oakland's offensive line has had a steady pipeline to the trainer's room ever since projected starting left tackle Jared Veldheer suffered a triceps injury in training camp.
At one point in the Chiefs game, the Raiders were using a fourth-string left tackle, a third-string center, a backup right guard and a third-string right tackle (McCants).
Oakland received some encouraging news this week when center Stefen Wisniewski was cleared to return to practice. Wisniewski did not play against Kansas City due to a knee injury and practiced without restrictions for the first time on Friday. He's expected to start against the Steelers.
Mike Brisiel, who was forced to play center against the Chiefs after backup Andre Gurode left the game injured, will shift back to right guard while the rest of the line will likely remain the same.
That includes McCants, whose battle with Woodley is one of the more pivotal matchups.
''He's a good young player and he's eager to get better and improve,'' Brisiel said of McCants. ''That's all you can ask out of a guy, come to work and do what you need to do. He's still young and he's still learning some things ... but I think he's doing a heck of a job.''
Notes: Gurode (quad) did not practice and is doubtful. OT Menelik Watson (knee) is also doubtful. ... LB Kaluka Maiava (hamstring) was limited and is questionable. CB Tracy Porter (shoulder) is probable.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org