This is not the 2004 Raiders

The Chargers secondary has its hands full on Sunday in Oakland, when it tries to corral Raiders wide receiver Randy Moss.

"I think the more you worry the worse you play," cornerback Quentin Jammer reasoned. "You have to be aware of the fact that he can go deep and try not to let him catch the deep balls."

Their 26th-ranked pass defense, however, could be without a starting cornerback.

Drayton Florence, who has been maybe the most consistent defensive back in an uneven season for the unit, has yet to practice this week. He sprained his ankle in Monday's loss to the Steelers, and with this being a short week, he still looks like he needs more time to get right.

Florence still is walking with a limp, and it's critical he gets some work in on Friday.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer used to have a hard and fast rule that if a player didn't practice, he didn't play. Schottenheimer has been flexible on that rule over the last two years and will certainly make an exception if Florence can go.

There's no question that the Chargers' struggling secondary is better off with Florence starting than the often overmatched Sammy Davis.

The Chargers, who are giving up 240 passing yards per game, have seen Moss before. He's played twice against them when he was with the Vikings, catching 18 passes for 247 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Moss leads the AFC with 466 receiving yards despite playing in only four games because the Raiders have had an off week.

"When you look at Randy you know that there is going to be some plays that you need more than one guy on him," Schottenheimer said.

That will likely pave the way for Jerry Wilson to suit up on the active roster this week to help provide an extra ounce of protection in the secondary.

If Florence can't go, not only will Davis be pushed into a starting role but Jamar Fletcher will slide in as the nickel back.

Lightning Quicks:

The Raiders rank third in the league in average gain on first down, 6.42 yards a play. It stands to reason, then, that with that kind of a head start, they should be successful on third down.

This particular set of seemingly related statistics lies.

The Raiders rank next-to-last in third down conversion percentage (29 percent, 14 of 49). It's a contradiction, right?

Wrong, according to coach Norv Turner. The statistics are skewed because 10 of the Raiders' 107 first-down plays went for big yardage.

Those plays netted 342 yards, almost half of the 687 yards they were credited with on first down. Included were plays of 73 and 64 yards and eight others that gained between 20 and 32 yards.

Simple subtraction shows, then, that on 97 of Oakland's first downs, the Raiders average first-down play netted 3.56 yards.

That meant they needed 6.44 yards for a first down on 91 percent of their third downs.

And that is the virtual opposite of what that 6.42 average gain on first down would seem to indicate. If their average first-down play were computed minus the 10 big ones, it would show an average gain of 3.56 yards.

And that would place the Raiders third from the bottom in the league rather than third from the top.


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