A line of pain and misery

The Raiders' offensive line has been beat up more times than Rocky but they have yet to come back. The one bonus is Denver has a long injury list coming into the contest.

Raiders:

"Jackie and I were talking last night about how tough it is, because we take a lot of pride in these guys," head coach Art Shell said on the 44 sacks the line has surrendered. "They want to do well, but we're just not getting it done."

Corey Hulsey isn't asking for a do-over, but he is looking forward to a second chance.

The Raiders reserve guard had a rough first start in Monday night's 16-0 loss to the Seahawks, and he conceded the fast and furious pace got the better of him for a while.

Hulsey started in place of Barry Sims at left guard, and it could be an extended stay. Sims has an abdominal strain that could sideline him for a few more weeks.

Coach Art Shell said Hulsey would start against Denver on Sunday, and Hulsey believes he will be better for the experience in Seattle.

"You can practice it all week and everything, but there's nothing like game speed," Hulsey said. "We try to show it as much as we can, but there's no way you can do it."

The first half, in particular, was a nightmare for the Oakland line. Quarterback Andrew Walter was sacked seven times, the most in a half of football since Neil O'Donnell of the Jets was dropped seven times in 1996.

Walter was sacked twice more in the second half, nothing to be proud of but considerably better than seven.

The Raiders also got some things done with the running game in the third quarter, although Shell admitted they had erred by not running more often. Oakland finished with 13 carries for 64 yards.

With the Raiders having surrendered a staggering 44 sacks through eight games, opponents will continue to apply the pressure until the line shows it can handle it.

"Seattle kept coming, they never backed off," Hulsey said. "But we were able to recognize it better and do a better job. We've just got to do that from the get-go next time out."

It's been a strange year for Hulsey in that he began the season preparing to be the starting center when Jake Grove was lost to a shoulder injury. Rather than start veteran backup and long snapper Adam Treu, Shell instead tabbed Hulsey, figuring his more powerful build would be better against San Diego nose tackle Jamal Williams.

But Grove recovered faster than expected, and something strange happened. Hulsey was declared inactive. He'd gone from starting center to inactive in a day, with Shell explaining because of special teams and depth, it was the necessary move.

Hulsey remained inactive until the Seattle game. He deferred to the coaches for making the decisions and took the same route with regard to the play-calling by offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, which put the offensive line in too many pass blocking sets against Seattle.

"It would help if we ran more, but it comes back to the players," Hulsey said. "If coach Walsh calls 80 pass plays, then we've got to block 80 pass plays. There's nothing we can do about it. We have to execute the game plan."

Broncos:

The Broncos have 10 players listed as questionable on the injury list, but there hasn't been much definitive word on who will play.

The team isn't giving many tips. The only player listed as worse than questionable on the injury report was safety Sam Brandon, who has a knee injury and already has been put on injured reserve.

For many of the injured players, coach Mike Shanahan offered the same assessment. They're sore, and the Broncos don't know yet if they will play.

"We'll find out at the end of the week," Shanahan said.

Defensive ends Ebenezer Ekuban (thigh) and Patrick Chukwurah (hamstring) and linebacker Ian Gold (hamstring) missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. Cornerback Darrent Williams (shoulder) has practiced on a limited basis. The other injured players have practiced, adding to the speculation of who will be ready to play.

Williams thinks he'll be available.

"I'm feeling pretty confident," Williams said. "I think I'll be ready to go by Sunday."

Running back Tatum Bell, who is listed as questionable with two injured big toes, also said he would be ready.

"I'm playing this week," Bell said.


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