Jerry Porter to play in Thursday's season opener?

In a roundabout way Jerry Porter says he'll be ready to play Thursday against the New England Patriots. Raiders coach Norv Turner sounded a little bit more cautious when asked about Porter on Monday but one player who Oakland won't have to worry about is Ronald Curry.

The fourth-year veteran receiver will make his first appearance in a regular season game since tearing the Achilles tendon in his left ankle last Dec. 5.

''I'm excited to play the whole game and being a part of the game plan again,'' said Curry on Monday, two days before the Raiders fly to New England for the season-opener against the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. ''You get back and the preseason is the preseason. Now it's time to go and you really see how things are going to be and unfold so I'm pretty happy with the situation.''

The Raiders offense has undergone a radical makeover since Curry limped off the Oakland Coliseum field last December, his left ankle throbbing in pain. The team added a new running back, revamped the offensive line a little, and added arguably the best receiver in the NFL in Randy Moss.

Curry, who was Oakland's leading receiver before getting hurt against Kansas City, no longer will be quarterback Kerry Collins' favorite target as he was for much of 2004 when he caught 50 passes for 679 yards and six touchdowns.

Or will he?

With defenses figuring to devote most of their attention on Moss, Curry and the other Raiders receivers should find themselves in favorable matchups against the Patriots, who are playing their first game without defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.

''The biggest problem with the Raiders is that in addition to Randy, who's clearly one of the outstanding receivers in this league, you've got a lot of other guys to deal with,'' New England coach Bill Belichick said. ''So it's a proven system and the Raiders have a very experienced team. They've got some outstanding players that are dynamic and big-play guys, guys that can score from anywhere on the field.''

Curry caught only three passes for 24 yards in the preseason, none for more than 11 yards. Still, in his limited playing time the former North Carolina star proved to the Raiders and himself his ankle is ready to go.

He also knows he stands to be more than just a No. 3 receiver, as he was tabbed once the Raiders traded for Moss and re-signed Porter in the offseason. Porter missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, causing Turner to take a pessimistic viewpoint on whether or not the veteran receiver would play against the Patriots.

Porter joked with reporters Monday on his status before turning serious.

''I feel like I went about this the right way,'' Porter said. ''I feel like I'll be ready to contribute and play my best against New England on Thursday night. I would have liked to have gotten at least one or two preseason games in and gotten a chance to play against somebody. It is what it is.''

As for Curry, he's just happy to be on the field again. After drawing the focus of defenses before he was hurt, Curry doesn't expect to be double-teamed much, if at all, anymore.

''Hell no,'' Curry said. ''Not me, anyway. Not with 18 (Moss) out there. I got going last year and by the time I started to get doubled, it was a little too late. So hopefully I'll pick up where I left off and get out there. I know Moss is going to get a lot of attention so it's going to allow me and everybody else to get out there and do what we need to do.''

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