The Kansas City Chiefs showed the way, the Denver Broncos followed suit, and now the Washington Redskins will in all probability send multiple rushers in the direction of quarterback Kerry Collins.
The Chiefs, with injured cornerbacks and nothing to lose, sent a dizzying array of blitzers at Collins in a 27-23 win at Arrowhead Stadium, with the then-29th-ranked defense holding the Oakland offense to 263 total yards.
Now the Redskins likely will send blitzers at the Oakland line until the Raiders can stop it. Collins has been sacked 21 times through nine games after being sacked just 25 times last season.
Worse, the timing of Oakland's offense has been altered. The Raiders offensive line has been dinged of late, with starting left guard Langston Walker undergoing emergency surgery for an intra-abdominal hemorrhage three weeks ago and center Jake Grove returning to active duty following arthroscopic knee surgery after Week 4.
Last week against Denver, Adam Treu, who started at center while Grove rehabbed, pulled himself from the game with tendinitis of the patellar tendon.
"I had mixed emotions," Treu said. "I thought, 'What did I just do?' Ultimately, it was a benefit. I think I made the right choice."
Though coach Norv Turner had made no announcement, it appears Grove will return as starting center Sunday, with Treu resuming his role as a long snapper and backup.
With starting right guard Brad Badger hobbled by a sore knee, the Raiders have had problems with continuity at a time when opponents are blitzing more than ever.
Treu said film study and extra mental preparation are crucial.
"I don't know if there's enough time in the day to look at all these (blitzes) on the practice field," Treu said.
Grove believes it is important to pick up the blitzes early, because the same ones will come later.
"Teams kind of have a flavor of the week they want to throw at us," Grove said. "They show what they're going to do in the first quarter and stick with it in the game. We just have to adjust to what they're doing and play."
Tackle Barry Sims realizes getting Collins untracked is largely the responsibility of the offensive line.
"I'm sure if teams find they can get to our quarterback and disrupt throwing lanes, it's an effective way to disrupt our passing game," Sims said. "We just need to bow up, recognize it early and get guys blocked to give our receivers a chance to get open and catch the ball."
--CB Charles Woodson, who hasn't been in an open locker room session since suffering a broken fibula, has been coming in during the morning to lift weights and work with his upper body. Woodson has done no conditioning, however, and coach Norv Turner said there has been no determination whether he may play again this season.
--DE Bobby Hamilton, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, got in some practice reps Thursday, but coach Norv Turner said Hamilton will be a game-time decision.
--LB Ryan Riddle was inactive for the first time this season against Denver because the Raiders wanted to activate TE Zeron Flemister. Turner said starting TE Courtney Anderson had been nursing a thigh bruise and Flemister was needed for insurance.
--DB Renaldo Hill has been monitored closely with hip and hand injuries as he is taking a beating playing inside as a 190-pound safety in some packages. Coach Norv Turner said the Raiders had no interest in Marques Anderson, a Raiders starter last year who was waived by Denver.--Although RB LaMont Jordan has improved the Raiders running game, ranked 32nd in the league last year, Jordan has just 278 yards on first-and-10 -- one reason the team is having a problem getting in decent down-and-distance situations for QB Kerry Collins.
The Buffalo Bills offense is built around the running of Willis McGahee. And for good reason -- the former University of Miami star's 856 rushing yards rank fourth in the league.
But the Chargers are tops in the NFL against the run, allowing just 79.6 yards per game. And they are out to prove they can stop McGahee, who has said he's the NFL's best back.
"From what I heard, he said he is the best running back in the league," Chargers nose tackle Jamal Williams said. "But we practice against the best right here (LaDainian Tomlinson).
"(McGahee) is a quality running back, don't get me wrong. He is quick, he runs out more on the outside. He's a quality player, and we're glad we have a challenge this week."
The challenge would be getting Williams his due. Despite being in the middle of a stingy run defense, Williams flies under the radar.
"I don't think he gets much notoriety because he is not one of those hoopla guys," defensive tackle DeQuincy Scott said. "He does his job, and that's good enough for him."
Said defensive tackle Luis Castillo: "It's unfair. He was never a guy you really heard too much about. You hear about Sam Adams and Casey Hampton of the Steelers and all those other guys. But you see what (Williams) does, the way he manipulates an offense and the way he makes offenses play around him. He changes the game."
--LT Roman Oben (foot) didn't practice again on Thursday and it is looking as if he will miss Sunday's game. Leander Jordan would get his second NFL start at left tackle if Oben can't go.
--OLB Steve Foley (strained abdominal) isn't getting worse. But he's not getting better, either, so he might be down for the third straight game. If he can't go, Shaun Phillips gets the start. Phillips has been productive while filling in; he has four sacks.
--OLB Shawne Merriman didn't work Thursday as he was hit by a migraine headache before practice. He said he will be fine for Sunday.
--CB Drayton Florence (ankle) has practiced all week after missing three of the past four games. Sammy Davis will step aside as the starter if the coaches determine Florence can go Sunday. That appears to be the case, barring any setbacks.
--C Nick Hardwick (ankle) is returning on Sunday, and that should give a boost to an offensive line that has been inconsistent of late. Hardwick missed the past three games.
--WR Keenan McCardell needs 34 receiving yards Sunday to pass Lance Alworth for 21st on the NFL's all-time list. Alworth will be on hand Sunday as his old No. 19 jersey is retired at halftime.
--WR Vincent Jackson skipped practice after tweaking a hamstring.
--ILB Ben Leber (foot) didn't practice and is questionable. He is a backup to Shawne Merriman.
Few thought it possible, but the return of quarterback Kurt Warner to St. Louis for this week's game against Arizona has been overshadowed by more issues surrounding the team.
First came an anonymous quote from "a disgusted veteran" in Sports Illustrated that criticized the team's three defensive tackles. Next was an altercation in practice Wednesday between offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild and running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery.
The Sports Illustrated story was essentially a compilation of what has affected the team off the field, from front-office dysfunction to the health problems of coach Mike Martz, which resulted in him not coaching since Oct. 9.
However, the story began with a statement from a player that was said immediately after Sunday's loss to Seattle.
The quote: "We have three (former) No. 1 picks at tackle, and those guys are killing us. They're not playing hard, and they can't stop anybody. It's horrible."
That was a reference to Damione Lewis, Jimmy Kennedy and Ryan Pickett.
Said defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson, who is also the team's defensive captain, "That is not a fair assessment, in my opinion. Opinions, everybody has one, you know the whole story, and people say whatever they want to say, but that is not what usually comes out of this locker room. So it's a little surprising. I'm not surprised that we don't have a name attached to it. If there's not a name attached to it, it really doesn't carry a whole lot of weight with me."
Jackson took the most exception with lumping Pickett in that group.
"Ryan Pickett is one of the best defensive tackles, nose tackles, in the league," Jackson said. "People don't really understand that. Ask his opponents. Watch the film. If you guys want to find out how good someone is playing, just watch the film. Don't take my word for it, words mean nothing. The film doesn't lie."
Asked about the play of his defensive tackles, interim coach Joe Vitt said, "I thought our defensive tackles have played pretty well this year, I think we're getting pretty good inside pressure. I think we could have been better last game. But there's a lot a guys that could have done a lot better last game."
As for the story, Vitt said, "I haven't read any Sports Illustrated. I haven't read our own papers. I haven't read any Sports Illustrated. I have no comment on it. I haven't read it.
"I don't know who the anonymous player was. And I will tell you this: I'm here to answer football questions -- not tabloid questions -- and talk about the Cardinals."
Asked whether it was newsworthy that a player points a finger at teammates, Vitt said, "Not until I get further information on it. No, I don't think it's newsworthy. Any other questions?"
The incident between Fairchild and Montgomery occurred when Montgomery first objected to Fairchild giving input to one of the team's running backs. It then escalated into a discussion about the team's offensive philosophy, and Montgomery's belief the Rams don't run enough. Montgomery then made contact with Fairchild's face with what has been described as a "push-slap."Vitt again elected not to address the incident, which no one in the media saw. He said, "I won't talk about hearsay."
--DE Tyoka Jackson suffered a back injury in practice Wednesday and did not practice Thursday. He was added to the injury report as questionable. "We just have to wait and see (Friday)," interim coach Joe Vitt said.
--G Adam Timmerman attended practice Thursday but did not participate because of soreness in his back. Timmerman will not start Sunday, but will be available in an emergency.
--WR Isaac Bruce said he came out of last week's game feeling good and hopes to do more this week against Arizona. Bruce played against Seattle after missing five games because of a toe injury.
--CB Ronald Bartell might get his first start in place of Travis Fisher (groin) this week. Bartell, Chris Johnson and Corey Ivy are all candidates to start.
--RB Marshall Faulk hasn't practiced this week because of soreness in his knee, but he is expected to play against Arizona.