Behind Enemy Lines: Chargers v. Raiders, p.I

Can Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew helps keep Philip Rivers off the field? Does Khalil Mack have some inside knowledge that will help him slow down Branden Oliver? Will Vincent Brown exact revenge against his former team? To answer these and other questions, we check in with Silver and Black Report lead reporter Chris McClain.

Michael Lombardo: What's the latest on Oakland's QB situation? Will Derek Carr be healthy enough to play this weekend? How does the offense change depending on who's in at quarterback?

Chris McClain: It is looking like Carr will be healthy enough to play. Head Coach Tony Sparano has not said Carr will play, but the young quarterback said on Wednesday it would take a lot for him to not play. He also mentioned he would not need a brace on his knee or ankle and would just tape them up as he usually does. He has looked unhindered by the injuries in practice this week.

Should Carr be unable to go, it will be veteran Matt Schaub under center since he has rejoined the team after taking care of personal matters. The offense won't change much if that's the case, but you certainly won't see any more of those read-options that Carr surprised Houston with in Week 2.

ML: Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew could be co-captains of the "dangerous when healthy" club. Where are they both at health-wise and how will the Raiders utilize them against the Chargers?

CM: Both McFadden and Jones-Drew appear to be healthy and ready to go. Jones-Drew is off of the injury report from his hand surgery and McFadden has stayed healthy so far. The problem with them is the team has been behind too much to be used effectively.

Sparano is a big believer in getting the running game going, and it should be expected he will look to get the league's worst rushing attack turned around quickly. Both backs have solid hands and are weapons to haul in receptions out of the backfield, as well.

ML: The Raiders have Vincent Brown, who was once a vital component in San Diego's passing game. Will Brown be a big part of Sunday's game plan, especially with Rod Streater out? Do you see Brown going off against his former team?

CM: Brown will certainly have an increased role in the offense with Streater out with his ankle injury. Brown saw his most meaningful playing time in the Raiders' last game, hauling in three receptions on four targets against the Miami Dolphins in London.

Expect it to be James Jones, Andre Holmes and Brown with the biggest workloads at wide receiver. Brown will certainly have an opportunity to make some plays against his former team.

ML: Oakland has the AFC's lowest-ranking run defense. San Diego had struggled running the ball until last week, when rookie Branden Oliver exploded against the Jets. Does Oliver have Oakland's attention? What are the Raiders doing to try to shore up their run defense?

CM: Branden Oliver has certainly drawn the attention of the Raiders defenders. Not only from his game last week, but due to his closeness to Raiders first-round pick Khalil Mack. Mack told us in the locker room on Wednesday that he and Oliver were roommates while at Buffalo. Mack said that he knows how to stop him, but that remains to be seen.

The Raiders once considered themselves deep at the linebacker position but that has changed rather quickly. Nick Roach and Kaluka Maiava were just placed on injured-reserve and the team has brought in Jamar Chaney and Ray-Ray Armstrong in order to get some more bodies. Miles Burris will get the start at middle linebacker again and getting Sio Moore back should also help the rush defense. The Raiders need to get more production from their defensive tackles, where they can take advantage of the Chargers' injuries at center.

Much of the Raiders' demise at stopping the run comes from poor tackling and not setting the edge. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver acknowledged this on Thursday, saying that the Raiders need to do a better job of this moving forward.

ML: What is your prediction for the game? Can the Raiders thwart the Chargers in Oakland for a second straight season?

CM: It's hard to say what Oakland team we will see this Sunday, but I do expect Sparano to have this team out there playing inspired football. The Raiders can indeed thwart the Chargers if they can find success in the running game, minimizing the time Phillip Rivers has the ball.

The Raiders don't have the best record coming off of byes, but Raiders-Chargers matchups always seem to be competitive. I think it'll be a competitive game. Four of the last six contests have been decided by 10 points or less.

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