Raiders offense faces tough test with injuries, Vikings
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Since returning from the bye, the Oakland Raiders offense has been on a run this team hasn't seen in 20 years.
With quarterback Derek Carr engineering an offense that includes big-play receivers on the outside in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, a dangerous running game led by Latavius Murray and a strong offensive line, the Raiders have topped 34 points in three consecutive games for the first time since 1995.
Oakland could be in for a tough test this week against Minnesota. The Vikings (6-2) are the only team not to allow more than 23 points in a game this season and the Raiders might need to end that streak without three key offensive players with Murray, Cooper and center Rodney Hudson nursing injuries that forced them to miss practice Wednesday.
Of late, little has stood in Oakland's way. The Raiders have scored 106 points the past three weeks in beating San Diego and the New York Jets and losing on a late field goal to Pittsburgh.
But Carr feels there's even more the offense can do.
''We were kind of mad at ourselves because there was so much more we feel like we could do,'' Carr said. ''The stats and all that are fun for people to look at. But for us, we turn the film on and are like, `Man, we missed that opportunity or that play or that chance.' That's what hurts us.''
There could be fewer opportunities for big plays if Cooper, Murray or Hudson is sidelined Sunday.
Cooper did not practice with an injured quadriceps that he appeared to hurt last Sunday in Pittsburgh. There was no word on the severity of the injury.
Murray left last week's loss in Pittsburgh in the third quarter with a concussion and was only a spectator at practice on Wednesday. He must clear the league's concussion protocols before being allowed to play.
This is the second concussion in as many seasons for Murray, who also was knocked out of a game last November against Kansas City. Murray missed one game after that hit.
Fullback Marcel Reece and backup tailback Taiwan Jones would likely share most of the running load if Murray can't play.
Hudson's absence could be more problematic. He left last week's game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle. Hudson had a walking boot on his injured foot and did not practice Wednesday.
Tony Bergstrom took his place with the starters after getting his first offensive snaps since 2012 at the end of the loss to the Steelers. Bergstrom missed the entire 2013 season with an injured foot and was a healthy inactive for all 16 games last season. Bergstrom has played exclusively on special teams this season until Hudson got hurt.
Starting left guard Gabe Jackson, who got work on snaps in practice, is confident the line can weather the loss of Hudson if he is unable to play Sunday.
''We just keep doing what we've been doing and that's working hard,'' Jackson said. ''Tony will be fine. He knows exactly what he needs to do and the calls to make.''
Hudson has anchored one of the league's best lines. With Hudson handling the protection calls, Carr has been sacked just eight times all season. Hudson has allowed just four quarterback pressures on 524 blocking snaps compared to two in just 16 for Bergstrom, according to Pro Football Focus.
Carr said his close work with Hudson throughout the year will help if Hudson does not recover in time for Sunday.
''We solve problems together, we do things together, we sit by each other in the meetings and talk through things,'' Carr said. ''If he wasn't able to go for some reason, there'd be no problem.''
NOTES: S Charles Woodson missed Wednesday practice as usual as he deals with shoulder and knee injuries. ... LB Neiron Ball (knee) also remains sidelined.
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