Burgess still hurting

The key to stopping the New Orleans Saints on offense? Getting to quarterback Drew Brees and getting him out of his comfort zone. But that task could get a little more difficult for the Raiders if defensive end Derrick Burgess isn't able to play.

The two-time Pro Bowl lineman was held out of the majority of workouts for the second straight day Thursday due to a triceps strain he aggravated earlier in the week. Burgess, who has 36 ½ sacks in three-plus seasons with Oakland, is hopeful of playing against the Saints but the Raiders are taking a cautious approach.

"We still don't know anything on the extent of the injury," interim head coach Tom Cable said. "All I know is it's a triceps strain. I think he's got to get some work in in order to feel good about it but we'll see what the extent of that is. Hopefully we'll know by tomorrow morning."

The Raiders have played better than expected along the defensive line this season, and while Burgess only has 1 ½ sacks to show for it, the veteran defensive end has had a big impact. He's been frequently double-teamed and attracts enough attention that Oakland's other pass-rushing defensive end, Kalimba Edwards, has been freed up to get his team-leading three sacks.

If Burgess cannot play or is limited against the Saints, the Raiders will likely move Jay Richardson into his spot. Richardson plays opposite Burgess on run downs then gives way to Edwards on passing downs.

Richardson has also been spending time inside at the three-technique spot, which could mean rookie Trevor Scott -- the listed backup to Burgess on the Raiders' depth chart -- will get pressed into action.

"We still have that three-man rotation going so we're OK," Cable said. "Fred Wakefield would be the fourth end."

Brees is the fourth-highest rated quarterback in the NFC and is leading the entire NFL with 1,673 passing yards, numbers that should get even better with the return of wide receiver Marques Colston and tight end Jeremy Shockey. Colston was out after undergoing thumb surgery while Shockey had to have a sports hernia surgery early in the season.

Both players returned to practice this week with the Saints.

"Brees is as good as there is right now in football," Cable said. "Statistically, he's the best guy. You really have to look at them and say, 'Hey, that's what you really want to become,' because they really are on time, they do things very, very quickly. Their receivers are tremendous route runners, they get good protection, so they're everything I just described."

In other practice notes:

· Cable downplayed the story that former coach Lane Kiffin was still talking to quarterback JaMarcus Russell and discussing the team's upcoming game.

"I heard about it," Cable said. "I really didn't think anything of it because if I worry about those things then it's going to take away from what I'm trying to do right now with the team. I have not put any thought into it and probably won't."

Asked if Kiffin could be taking away from what the Raiders are trying to do with Russell, Cable said no.

"I would never expect Lane to do something like that. I just took it in stride and really didn't put anything into it."

· Running back Darren McFadden continues to be limited by his turf toe injury and was unable to take part in Thursday's full practice.

· Strong safety Gibril Wilson was held out because of the flu.

· Wide receiver Drew Carter, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, is making good progress after undergoing surgery and is hopeful of being ready in time for offseason workouts.

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