Broncos v. Raiders Game Preview

Raiders quarterback Daunte Culpepper has been injured, but is expected to play as the Denver Broncos try to get back on the winning track in Oakland. Read the complete game preview.

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Denver Broncos (5-6) at Oakland Raiders (3-8)
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GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF:
Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/02/07
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Bill Macatee, Steve Beuerlein
SERIES: 95th meeting. Raiders lead the series 53-39-2, but the Broncos have dominated the recent history. Since taking over as Broncos head coach in 1995, Mike Shanahan is 20-5 against the team that once fired him.

PREDICTION: Broncos 23-20

KEYS TO THE GAME: Whoever is healthy enough to carry the ball will be thrown at the Raiders' 32nd-ranked run defense allowing 5.0 yards per carry and 153.6 yards per game. Oakland's job containing the run won't be made any easier with Broncos WR Javon Walker expected to get increased playing time as Denver seeks an improved vertical threat to stretch defenses. ... The Raiders still have a run-first approach, but coach Lane Kiffin has slowly started opening the playbook to give his team a fighting chance to move the ball. QB Daunte Culpepper won't be asked to attack CBs Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly much, but rookie TE Zach Miller could be a popular target. RB Justin Fargas is coming off a 139-yard game, and LaMont Jordan had a career-high 159 yards in the first meeting.

KEY INJURIES: Broncos: RB Travis Henry (knee) is practicing and might return after missing three games; RB Selvin Young (knee) could play after missing a game.
Raiders: DE Derrick Burgess (Achilles) continues to be limited.

FAST FACTS: Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is 20-5 (.800) against his former team. ... The Raiders have four offensive touchdowns in the past five meetings.

PERSONNEL NEWS:
Broncos:

--RB Travis Henry practiced Thursday and should be ready to play this week. Henry is the likely starter, but hasn't played in three weeks and probably won't have his normal workload.
--RB Selvin Young practiced for the second straight day Thursday and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he should be able to play Sunday. Young sat out last week's game with a knee injury.
--WR Javon Walker was not limited in practice on Thursday. He was limited Wednesday. Walker will get more playing time as he continues to heal from a knee injury.
--WR Brandon Stokley, who has a minor knee injury, went through a full practice Thursday. He will be ready to play this week.
--RB Andre Hall was the only Broncos player who missed practice Thursday. He might go Friday, but has a high ankle sprain and is unlikely to play this week.

Raiders:
--QB Daunte Culpepper was limited in practice with a right quadriceps injury, but coach Lane Kiffin expects him to face the Broncos. Josh McCown and JaMarcus Russell split first-team reps, Kiffin said.
--QB Josh McCown suffered a dislocated left pinky Wednesday during practice, an injury which required stitches, but practiced Thursday and was not listed on the injury report.
--RB LaMont Jordan, who has split time with Dominic Rhodes as the backup to Justin Fargas, could get the nod against Denver because he gained 159 yards against the Broncos in Week 2.
--DE Derrick Burgess, limited in practice Wednesday with an Achilles' injury, made it through practice without a problem Thursday and is expected to face Denver.
--C Jake Grove practiced for the second straight day without limitations and is expected to resume his role as the backup to Jeremy Newberry.

INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Broncos:

A year after having a nearly flawless season and almost winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey has had a mostly quiet 2007.
Bailey allowed a game-tying touchdown to Bears receiver Bernard Berrian in the final minute of last week's game. Even more surprising was that the Bears picked on him in the first place. That rarely happened last year.
Bailey's numbers are down this season. He had 18 interceptions and 58 passes broken up in 2005 and 2006. This year he has two interceptions and has broken up six passes.
"You guys want to make it seem like if I don't make those numbers every year then I'm not doing anything," Bailey said. "It's your perception. I really don't care what you think. It's really in this locker room, that's all that matters."
This season Bailey also gave up a 79-yard touchdown to Packers rookie James Jones, who hasn't scored another touchdown since. Against Berrian, Rex Grossman pump-faked Bailey's way and then hit Berrian to his outside shoulder.
"Nine times out of 10 I'm going to make that play," Bailey said. "They just got me on that one." Bailey explained his drop in numbers by saying he hasn't gotten many chances.
"People are not throwing deep balls at my side like they did last year," Bailey said. "The opportunities are definitely going down. But I still got some chances to make some plays, and I've got to make them."

Raiders:
Jerry Porter admits it took time for him to get going after a year in exile.

"When I first went to mini-camp last year it was like football was brand new to me, almost," Porter said. "I almost had to re-learn how to catch the ball. I'd spent so much time standing and watching."

Locked in a feud with coach Art Shell last season, Porter played in only four games. He was suspended for two and inactive for 10.

Porter instantly got in the good graces of new coach Lane Kiffin and was a starter from the first minicamp through training camp. While not catching as many passes as he would like, Porter is making the most out of the ones he gets.

Averaging a career-high 17.8 yards per catch, eight of Porter's 29 receptions have been for 29 yards or more. That is only three behind the leader, Reggie Wayne of Indianapolis (11).

"The way this offense is set up, Ronald (Curry) gets a lot of the shorter routes, the move-the-chain type routes," Porter said. "I take more of the shots."

Porter doesn't deny wanting more of a role in the offense, but is diplomatic in the way he makes his case.

"I just do what I'm told," Porter said. "You ask any receiver, no matter how many catches he has, he feels like he should have gotten the ball more."

In last week's 20-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Porter had three receptions for 75 yards. Included was a one-handed snag of a sideline route from quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who played with acrobatic receivers in Minnesota and gave it high marks.

"Cris Carter made some great catches but that was right up there, ranked with the best catches I've ever seen," Culpepper said.

An even bigger reception came later, after the Raiders had stopped Kansas City on a fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter and trailed 17-13.

On the play following a 28-yard pass from Culpepper to Zach Miller, Porter broke free along the right sideline and hauled in a 35-yard strike, holding on to the ball when blasted out of bounds by safety Bernard Pollard.

Despite the high percentage of deep catches, Porter still hear the talk that the Raiders are without a deep threat.

"I've heard since I've been here that I haven't been adequate enough, so I just laugh at 'em," Porter said. "Ultimately, at the end of the day, I'm worried about the guys in this locker room and my performance on the field."



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