The Oakland Raiders recently made several roster moves in preparation for their Week 10 game against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Raiders (4-4) have struggled with their pass defense all season long and are hoping that the return of strong safety Nate Allen will provide some relief according to Mike Wagaman of the Associated Press. Oakland ranks last in the NFL in pass defense, surrendering 315 yards a game through the air.
The Raiders have allowed quarterbacks to shred them for 300-plus yards (four times). Last week, Oakland permitted Pittsburgh to accumulate 402 yards through the air and a franchise-record 597 total yard. Antonio Brown, who the Raiders couldn’t contain, finished with 17 receptions for 284 yards, including a 57-yard catch on the drive that set up the game-winning field goal.
Overall, Oakland ranks No. 30 in total defense (411.5 yards) and No. 24 in scoring defense (26.4 points a game). The Raiders defense is also No. 8 in first downs (187), No. 23 in third down conversions (41.2 percent), and tied-No. 23 with 15 sacks. They have forced 14 turnovers though, including nine interceptions.
Allen was one of the key free agents the Raiders signed during the off-season, but he hasn’t played since injuring the MCL in his right knee in Week 1. The 27-year old recorded one tackle in the Raiders 33-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Allen has been a playmaker since being selected in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He has recorded 278 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 10 interceptions, and three interceptions while also being credited with 30 pass defenses in 74 career games.
“Having Nate Allen back really strengthens our secondary,” Oakland Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton told ESPN. “[It] makes us better in every way and we welcome him with open arms.”
Allen’s return allows second-year corner back TJ Carrie, who had filled in for Allen at strong safety since Week 3, to move back to his normal position. Carrie has 23 tackles and forced one fumble this season. He missed the game against the Steelers with shoulder and hip issues. CSN Bay Area‘s Scott Bair noted that Carrie will likely go back to returning punts as return specialist Marcus Thigpen was cut to make room for Allen. Carrie has returned 17 punts this season for 6.8 yards per return with a long return of 22 yards.
Thigpen only appeared in one game for the Raiders, returning two kicks for a total of three yards — one punt for one yard and one kickoff for two yards. He also lost a fumble against Pittsburgh.
Reserve running back Taiwan Jones is expected to return kickoffs once again. Jones has returned 13 kicks for a 25.1 yard average. His longest return has been 41 yards.
Thigpen only appeared in one game for the Raiders, returning two kicks for a total of four yards — one punt and one kickoff. He also lost a fumble against Pittsburgh.
In other news, center Rodney Hudson likely won’t be able to go against Minnesota. Hudson (ankle) is officially listed as doubtful on the Raiders injured list but he hasn’t practiced this week. If Hudson doesn’t play, 29-year-old Tony Bergstrom will replace him. Bergstrom replaced Hudson in the Pittsburgh game but has only one start in his career.
Linebacker Neiron Bell (knee) is the only player listed as out while Carrie (hip), WR Amari Cooper (Quad), RB Latavious Murray (concussion), TE Clive Walford (Quad), and S Charles Woodson (shoulder) are listed as probable.
In addition, Oakland promoted rookie tight end Gabe Holmes from the practice squad this week. Holmes went undrafted out of Purdue but was impressive in training camp. He takes the roster spot of safety Tevin McDonald, who was waived.
The Raiders need a victory against Minnesota (6-2), as they have their sights on one of the Wild Card spots. Oakland is currently a half-game out of the eighth spot, behind Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and the New York Jets.
[photo courtesy of Oakland Raiders Twitter]