McNeil Returning Already?

The importance of cornerback Ryan McNeil returning from a fractured right arm he obtained while trying to tackle Ricky Williams cannot be overstated with the passing attack the Raiders bring to the table.

Yesterday Ryan McNeil practiced with the first team and after practice he removed the cast that had been on him since he had a pin surgically placed in his forearm on Nov. 25th.

Will he play this weekend?

"He seems quite determined," coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

Expect McNeil to be in the starting lineup this week.

McNeil refused to comment regarding the injury but was upbeat enough to stick around and talk about the success of fellow cornerback Alex Molden.

McNeil explained the play of Molden in last week's game where Molden shut down Denver wide receiver Rod Smith:

"That was one thing he didn't do a lot last year. He was in place, but he didn't make a play on the ball, but as a corner, when you build up momentum from the beginning of the game, you get to a point where you say, 'I dare you to throw the ball. I dare you.' "

"If he had any questions about whether he can play at a high level still, he answered them for himself and for this organization – as well as the 31 other organizations out there," McNeil said. "It's done. It's history. Anytime anyone wants to pull out a tape of where he played at a high level against some good competition, they can pull out the tape of that game. But I don't think that's his last great game by any stretch of the imagination.

"I think he's still got some football left, and he has made up his mind that he's going to do whatever he can to get to that level and be consistent, because ultimately that's how you're judged: How consistent can you be playing at a high level?"

For the record, Molden held Smith to two catches for 36 yards. The two catches represent a season low for Smith. The Broncos completed two of their first three passes to Smith, but five of their next six to him fell incomplete with Molden in coverage. The other was intercepted by Molden.

The defining moment came with under two minutes to play in regulation and the Broncos threatening to score on third-and-five at the San Diego 7, he was left man-on-man with Smith on the open side of the field and broke up the pass to force a field goal.

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