Focus turns to Raider reserves
Regan Upshaw looked at Trace Armstrong as a mentor along Oakland's defensive line, someone the Raiders younger players could turn to for advice and model themselves after. But with Armstrong done for the year after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the team's win over Seattle last Sunday, Upshaw says it's time for the younger players to step up and be accounted for. ‘'I don't know what the coaches are going to do to be honest but as a defensive line we have to pick it up,'' said Upshaw on Wednesday. ‘'We're going to miss (Armstrong) tremendously. You have the wisdom of a 13-year vet and he's not here anymore. We have to stay strong. We can't fall apart but at the same time we lost a great leader, somebody with a vast knowledge.'' To a man, the Raiders say Armstrong's absence will be more noticeable inside the team's locker room rather than on the field. Not only is Armstrong the president o the NFL Players Association, he is also considered one of the league's more well-liked players. Making Armstrong's absence even more glaring are the injuries to defensive tackles Roderick Coleman (hamstring) and Grady Jackson (shoulder). Rookie Chris Cooper is expected to take on an expanded role on Oakland's defensive line as a result. ‘'Coop's a good player,'' Upshaw said. ‘'They're just finally giving him a chance. He's been showing us that since he came here. He's a hard player, got a great motor, never stops. He's going to be a good player in this league.'' The Raiders also signed defensive end Darren Mickell on Tuesday and will try to get him ready to play against the Cowboys. ‘'He looked pretty good,'' said head coach Jon Gruden. ‘'He still has the quickness and we think he can play inside and outside.'' Running back Tyrone Wheatley was held out of practice with a sore tailbone, though he wasn't put on the team's injury report. Gruden said he was probable to play against Dallas. NOTES – Incredible as it seems, the Raiders are a 19-point favorite to beat the Cowboys on Sunday. That Oakland should win isn't the question, but few – if any – NFL teams ever get the respect of being nearly three-touchdown favorites, no matter who the opponent. ‘'I don't believe in point spreads,'' Gruden said. ‘'Someone told me that Baltimore was 100-1 to win the Super Bowl last year, so I don't give a damn about point spreads.'' … It's very possible the game could be televised locally in the Bay Area. As of Tuesday only 3,000 tickets remained unsold for the game … Quarterback Rich Gannon averaged 33 rushing yards a game last season but has just 34 rushing yards total in Oakland's first three games this season. INJURY REPORT Raiders: Defensive tackle Roderick Coleman (hamstring) doubtful; quarterback Bobby Hoying (elbow) doubtful; defensive tackle Grady Jackson (shoulder) questionable; guard Mo Collins (calf) probable; safety Johnnie Harris (shoulder) probable; tight end Roland Williams (ankle) probable. Cowboys: Defensive end Ebenzer Ekuban (back) out; wide receiver Rocket Ismail (knee) out; linebacker Orantes Grant (ankle) doubtful; quarterback Quincy Carter (thumb) questionable; tight end Jackie Harris (groin) questionable; linebacker Dat Nguyen (hand) questionable; defensive end Bryan Frisch (knee) probable.
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