Raiders hope ground game falls in line

The Oakland Raiders bid to bolster their ground game have not produced encouraging results but perhaps having Robert Gallery in the lineup will provide that needed spark, so the Raiders hope. Perhaps having Gallery in the lineup will provide much-needed stability. Just don't expect the same approach at running back.

The Oakland Raiders, who host the Buffalo Bills Sunday, rushed for 61 yards on 22 carries in a 24-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Raiders have made it a point to improve their running game under first-year head coach Norv Turner. Oakland finished last season as the 16th rated ground game but often times the running game was only lip-service.

"It's almost like two different languages," Raiders running back Justin Fargas said. "This offense is run friendly but it's also good for the passing game. You stretch the field and receivers like that. They don't just like to run the short crossing routes. Guys like to make big plays. This offense takes advantage of everyone's skills."

Turner indicated that if things go as planned through the rest of the week, Gallery, the Raiders prized rookie from the University of Iowa who played well enough in his debut last Sunday, would start Sunday's home opener against Buffalo. Gallery would start at right tackle with Langston Walker backing up at both tackle spots.

Oakland rotated its linemen Gallery playing played 17 snaps at right tackle for Walker and 15 at left guard for Frank Middleton. Granted, part of the Raiders problem in producing yardage on the ground can be attributed to falling behind 14-0 in the first half, producing a situation where they were compelled to throw more. The constant shuffling on the line, however, has perhaps slowed the ability to develop some level of cohesion.

The approach is not likely to be the same, however, at running back as Tyrone Wheatley and Fargas, both of whom shared the ball-carrying chores last week and figure to do so again this week. Running the ball will not get any easier this week as Buffalo features two mammoth defensive tackles in Pat Williams (315) and Sam Adams (335), who played for the Raiders in 2002.

"You want to get the ball as much as possible but I'll be ready whenever the team needs me and whenever the coaches call my number," Fargas said.

Injury report

LB Sam Williams (labrum surgery) is two to four weeks away from rejoining practice but was listed as doubtful (25 percent chance of playing). LB Napoleon Harris, who missed the opener because of a knee injury, is likely to play Sunday. Buffalo listed only two players on its injury report -- both of them declared out -- QB J.P. Losman (leg) and SS Lawyer Milloy (forearm).

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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