Injuries test Raiders receiving depth

The Raiders are all but certain to be without Ashley Lelie and Ronald Curry for Sunday's game against Houston, putting even more strain on a receiving corps that's been heavily taxed by injuries all season.

Lelie has not practiced this week due to a calf injury while Curry limped through the team's locker room Wednesday wearing a protective boot on his left foot due to turf toe. Both men are listed as doubtful to play against the Texans, leaving Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens as the likely starters.

"I know we're not necessarily supposed to be the guys but there's nothing you can do about it," Schilens said. "It's different not having Ronald or even Ashley out there. Those guys have been around for so long … but any more game experience you can get and learn from, it's better in the long run."

Receivers coach James Lofton said it's not uncommon for teams to have to reach deep down their depth chart at this point of the season but admits Oakland's situation is unusual.

"It's funny, we exchanged Christmas gifts today and we've been having five guys in the meeting room. And so we went and got the other five guys out of the training room and there were 10 guys in the room," Lofton said. "It's kind of different. There's definitely some talent amongst the guys right now. I think everybody's excited about what they can do in the future."

Getting a look at the future is all the Raiders have to look forward to, that and trying to snap a four-game home losing streak. They are just 3-12 at the former McAfee Coliseum over the last two seasons, including a 1-6 mark this year.

Oakland will take only four healthy receivers into the game against Houston, with Todd Watkins and Jonathan Holland joining Higgins and Schilens. The Raiders also signed DJ Hall to their practice squad earlier this week.

That's a far cry from the expected rotation of Javon Walker, Drew Carter, Curry and Higgins that the Raiders started training camp with. But Walker and Carter both suffered season-ending injuries, taking away quarterback JaMarcus Russell's top two receivers before he had a chance to establish a rapport with either.

Lelie, who was signed just before the start of the year after Carter blew out his knee, has been in and out of the lineup, most recently with a headache that prevented him from playing against San Diego on Dec. 4. He returned to play against New England last week but suffered a calf injury in the loss to the Patriots.

Curry, who is expected to be released in the offseason, hasn't been able to work out due to a nagging turf toe injury.

"It's that time of year," Lofton said. "These guys they've been very attentive during the year. They've been a real studious group, I'm talking about the younger guys that are remaining, so I think that they're ready to step up. They study hard, they're diligent in they're preparation so I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited about the opportunity.

"I just think that we've had to shuttle guys in and out because of injuries. That can hamper you a little bit but you don't use it as an excuse. You just go out and perform the best that you can."

SB Report Top Stories