Pear moving to guard

Leaving Chris Morris at center instead of moving him to guard to replace injured starter Robert Gallery is the best decision Raiders head coach Tom Cable could have made under the circumstances. Find out why and see what else S&BI's Michael Wagaman has to say as Oakland prepares for Sunday's showdown with Denver.

-- Tom Cable announced Wednesday that Erik Pears will shift from being the backup right tackle to starting left guard as the Raiders try to overcome the loss of Robert Gallery, who broke his leg in last week's win over Kansas City.

That's a change from earlier in the week when the Raiders were mulling sliding start center Chris Morris over to guard, like they did for the final two minutes against the Chiefs after Gallery got hurt. Cable's decision was based largely on trying to keep the changes along Oakland's offensive line to a minimum.

"One move rather than two is the way I felt," Cable said. "That was the deciding factor."

It's also the smart move.

While Morris is more than capable of filling in while Gallery is out, the Raiders are much better served by having him play center. Samson Satele is still not up to speed in terms of making the line calls and his size makes him a little more of a liability in the middle of the line rather than Morris.

Those two reasons are why Cable opted to go with Morris as the starter coming out of training camp.

Granted, the Raiders did score the winning touchdown against the Chiefs with Satele at center and Morris at guard. But over the long haul, keeping Morris in the middle is the best option the team has.

"He's been solid," Cable said of Morris. "I think he's been outstanding in terms of targeting protections and all those sort of things. In the run game, (he was) good in the first game, and like everyone, struggled in the second one."

-- Safety Michael Huff was the center of attention in Oakland's locker room Wednesday and for good reason. The former first-round pick has accounted for four takeaways in the Raiders first two games (three interceptions, one fumble recovery) and is playing better than he has at any other time during his NFL career.

But before the Huff bandwagon tips over, let's keep this in mind: The Raiders still don't feel confident enough in him to make him the full-time starter. Cable admitted that if Hiram Eugene is healthy – he did not practice Wednesday and is questionable due to a leg injury – that the two would continue to rotate like they have in the first two games, with Eugene playing in the base sets and Huff coming in on passing downs.

It's a somewhat unique rotation that has worked out well so far, but at some point the Raiders are going to have to go with one guy full time. If opponents decide to go to a hurry-up offense, Oakland could find itself in a bind if it stays with the Eugene-Huff rotation.

-- Johnnie Lee Higgins was limited in practice due to the AC sprain in his shoulder and is still questionable to play against the Broncos. With Eugene also hurting, Oakland's punt return options are thin.

How thin? Starting running back Darren McFadden could end up on special teams against the Broncos, though Cable said it would be with a distinct order: catch the ball and get off the field.

"My feeling is (Higgins) is going to go," Cable said. "If he didn't go I think that Darren would go back and fair catch everything."

-- Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha expects to have to play with a cast on his right wrist for another three weeks. It hasn't made a big difference in Asomugha's game so far and the Pro Bowl defensive back said the pain is virtually gone.


SB Report Top Stories