Schilens getting closer

Chaz Schilens is still doubtful to play this Sunday against Houston but the second-year wide receiver is getting closer to returning to the Raiders lineup.

The Raiders own the NFL's 32nd-ranked passing attack and quarterback JaMarcus Russell has come under serious fire the last two weeks but the outlook for both is getting a little more brighter.

Chaz Schilens, who was carving himself a spot as Russell's go-to receiver in training camp before breaking his left foot during a team scrimmage, is scheduled to go through his most extensive practice since the injury on Friday.

"We'll start him with some individual and just do some work, some light work, just kind of introduce him to it," head coach Tom Cable said Thursday. "Once he's back into the routine, absolutely, we need to get him involved. That may lend itself to a little more three-receiver stuff."

The Raiders haven't gotten much production out of their passing game at all this season, and Schilens' absence is at least a partial reason.

Without him in the lineup, Oakland has started rookies Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy. In three games they two have combined for just nine catches, 156 yards and one touchdown.

The only other wide receiver on the Raiders roster with a catch so far is Todd Watkins, who has one reception for 28 yards.

Schilens developed a good rapport withy Russell early in training camp and had begun to lean on the lanky wide receiver more and more. With tight end Zach Miller, Russell had two legitimate and capable downfield threats.

That changed when Schilens went out. The Raiders have not found a suitable replacement since _ Javon Walker has been inactive two of the first three games while Heyward-Bey has struggled adjusting to the NFL game.

With no receivers to worry much about, defenses have taken to double-teaming Miller to force Russell to look elsewhere.

Getting Schilens, who is listed as doubtful this week, back on the field would be a big help to not only Russell but the rest of the offense.

"He'll be a big help, and to the young guys, he'll be a help to them just by letting them know he was young before he'd been in it," Russell said. "It would be good to get him back."

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