Griffith done for the year

A day after suffering a 19-point loss on the road to Baltimore, the Raiders received more bad news when it was learned fullback Justin Griffith suffered a season-ending knee injury on Sunday.

Griffith, who scored Oakland's only touchdown on a short reception from quarterback JaMarcus Russell in the third quarter, tore the ACL in his right knee and will undergo surgery to repair the damaged ligament soon.

"I believe he did it a couple plays before (the touchdown) but at the goal line is really where it gave," interim head coach Tom Cable said during his press conference Monday."

Griffith's injury is a big blow to an offense already suffering from a variety of problems. The Raiders lost backup fullback Oren O'Neal to a serious knee injury in the preseason, one that team officials initially feared could be career-threatening. Although the word on O'Neal is now optimistic, that doesn't do much for Oakland in its current situation.

The only other fullback on the roster is Lawton, a fourth-year player who has never started a game in the NFL.

"We've got Luke Lawton here, and we'll try to get someone in here because we do not have much depth at that position," Cable said. "Even if you get someone in here, it's still going to be a matter of time before he's really trained and ready to go. Particularly for the Atlanta game, we're going to have to really look at our team and see where we can fill in that spot with other people."

One possible solution is to use running back Michael Bush at fullback. Bush, whose size alone makes him a natural for the position, was tried at the fullback in practice earlier in the season but never was used there in a game. When the Raiders signed Lawton, the Bush-to-fullback experiment ended.

But with rookie Darren McFadden still nursing a turf toe injury, Oakland doesn't have the flexibility yet to move Bush back to fullback.

"You hope it would be an option, but we'll see in terms of evaluating that," Cable said. "Obviously, with Darren in his condition right now with the foot, I'm not sure it's a real option."

Whoever the Raiders get will have a difficult time filling Griffith's shoes. He was fifth on the team in receptions but was a veteran leader on the offense and in the locker room.

"You lose a terrific person, a lot of leadership," Cable said. "He's solid as a rock. He comes to work every day. He does things to the best of his ability every opportunity he gets. Someone who's familiar with the system. You're losing quite a bit there. But we'll get Luke to step up, and we'll get someone in here and get him trained as quick as we can."


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