Rodney Hudson

Raiders injury report: Rodney Hudson, Andre James hopeful for Week 9

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AP

Raiders injury report: Rodney Hudson, Andre James hopeful for Week 9

ALAMEDA – Raiders centers Rodney Hudson and Andre James didn’t practice Thursday, missing their second workout in as many days.

That has left guard Richie Incognito to take snaps at center, along with recently signed center Erik Magnuson. That’s not an ideal situation, but offensive coordinator Greg Olson isn’t too worried about it.

“[It’s] really not that high, to be honest with you,” Olson said after Thursday’s practice. “Both Rodney and Andre were out there today. They both felt good. They looked good walking around. They’ve given us indication that there’s a good chance they’ll be out there tomorrow.”

That’s still ultimately uncertain, especially for Hudson. James is a bit of a wild card, with the severity of his ankle issue ultimately unknown.

Incognito is Plan C, but the veteran has played some there in the past. For Olson, as a matter of fact.

“He played center when I was with the St. Louis Rams, a long time ago,” Olson said. “And he played it very well. He got some work there today. That’s a credit to the people that assemble the team to have so many versatile linemen.”

[RELATED: Playoffs?! Long road trip showed Raiders what is possible]

Safety Erik Harris missed Thursday’s workout with an illness, but his playing status is no major cause for concern at this stage. That’s a good thing considering the Raiders are thin at his position with demoted former starter Curtis Riley as the primary backup. Harris and Karl Joseph have played almost every defensive snap the past four games.

Raiders practice report

THURSDAY
Did not practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
WR Dwayne Harris (ankle)
C Andre James (ankle)
DE Josh Mauro (groin)
S Erik Harris (illness)

Limited practice
DT PJ Hall (shoulder)
RT Trent Brown (calf)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
LB Tahir Whitehead (shoulder/wrist)

Full practice
OT Trent Brown (calf)
OG Gabe Jackson (knee)
WR Tyrell Williams (foot)

Raiders practice report

WEDNESDAY
Did not practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
WR Dwayne Harris (ankle)
C Andre James (ankle)
DE Josh Mauro (groin)

Limited practice
WR Tyrell Williams (foot)
RT Trent Brown (calf)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
LB Tahir Whitehead (shoulder/wrist)

Full practice
OT Trent Brown (calf)
OG Gabe Jackson (knee)

Richie Incognito shifting to center as Raiders offensive line shuffles

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USATSI

Richie Incognito shifting to center as Raiders offensive line shuffles

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders' offensive line has been the strength of their team so far this season, an impressive feat given the first-team line only has played a handful of snaps together. 

The musical chairs on the offensive line likely will continue Sunday in Week 9 when the Raiders welcome the Detroit Lions to the Coliseum. Starting center Rodney Hudson left Oakland's Week 8 loss to the Texans with what the team is calling a high-ankle sprain. Andre James relieved him, but he did not practice Wednesday after also spraining an ankle. 

With both centers sidelined and questionable for the tilt with the Lions, the Raiders are looking at shuffling the offensive line for Sunday's game. Richie Incognito, who has been rock solid at left guard over the last five games, will get the call at center should Hudson and James be unable to go. 

"Incognito can be the center, he's a great player," head coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday after practice. "Denzelle [Good] can play guard. We just want to get some continuity. The only guy to start every game on the line has been Kolton Miller. We've had three different left guards, three different right guards and three different right tackles and now potentially three different centers. When you combine that with the youth at running back, the youth at tight end and the changing of the guard at wide receiver, it's been tough on Derek [Carr]."

Incognito, who was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the league's personal conduct policy, hasn't played center in the NFL since doing emergency duty for the Miami Dolphins in 2010. It's a different feel for the natural guard, going from ground soldier to leader of the line, but a challenge he enjoys and is looking forward to should he be called upon. 

"It's been a while," Incognito said. "I do like it. I don't mind center. It's something that comes natural to me -- snapping the ball, making the points, being in there one-on-one, getting help from both guards. It's fun going back to center, learning something new. 

"Center is a lot more cerebral. You're coming up, you're trying to be clear with the point so everybody else can get lined up. At guard, you're just waiting for the center to make a point and be physical and run off the ball, but at center you've got a lot more going on pre-snap." 

Incognito missed the first two games of the season. Right guard Gabe Jackson missed the first five. Right tackle Trent Brown missed the Raiders' Week 7 loss to the Packers with a calf injury. The unit finally was healthy and whole in Week 8 before Hudson went down early in the first quarter with an ankle injury. Backups Good, James and David Sharpe have played well when called upon. 

Carr only has been sacked eight times in seven games, a number that ranks second in the NFL behind only the Steelers. The offensive line as a whole takes great pride in keeping Carr upright and in being able to plug and play, no matter who goes down. 

"I think the key is just guys being prepared," Incognito said. "Guys being serious about their roles as a backup and then when they get in the game, you know, they excel. They know what to do. We have done a really good job of facing adversity, so it's fun. It's fun to accept a new challenge. I'm 36 years old playing a new position and I love it."

The unit, from top to bottom, takes pride in keeping Carr clean, allowing the talented quarterback time to survey the defense and make plays down the field. It's a different feeling from last year, when Carr spent more time looking at the grass then he did diagnosing opposing defenses. Improved line play coupled with an effective run game has made the quarterback's life a whole lot easier in 2019. 

"I definitely feel different this year, I feel fresh as can be," Carr said of his line's ability to protect him. "That's a credit to our offensive line. We joke around all the time, I go around and check on them all the time and they are sore, all these kind of things. They go, 'Well how do you feel?' I feel great actually, thank you for asking.' That's all that matters to them so it's good."

[RELATED: Why Raiders were wise to show discipline at trade deadline]

If Hudson and James are unable to go Sunday against the Lions, the Raiders' offensive line will have to shuffle around yet again.

Incognito will be tasked with keeping one of the NFL's best lines operating at an elite level against a Lions front that is more daunting than the numbers would suggest. 

If the Raiders have shown anything this season, it's that the offensive line, no matter who trots out onto the field, will be up to the challenge. 

Five Raiders to watch in Week 3: All eyes on Josh Jacobs vs. Vikings

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AP

Five Raiders to watch in Week 3: All eyes on Josh Jacobs vs. Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS – The Raiders start a brutal stretch of road games on Sunday in Minnesota, and find themselves labeled underdogs right off the bat against the Vikings.

Oakland has the talent and game-day coaching to earn an upset at U.S. Bank Stadium, but these five Raiders must make key contributions to make it happen.

RB Josh Jacobs

The rookie running back has been effective when give the chance, churning out tough yards and taking chunks working in space. The Alabama product can do everything well, from rushing inside while making smart cuts to zone reads. He can be effective out of the backfield as well, and this might be a game Jacobs can control both in terms of time of possession and steady scoring.

The more attention Jacobs draws, the easier life will be on a passing game heavily reliant on Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller. Jacobs had 24 touches in a season-opening win over the Denver Broncos, and needs an equally heavy workload on Sunday. He has been dealing with an illness making its way through the locker room – coach Jon Gruden didn’t like Jacobs announcing that fact on social media – but must persevere for the Raiders to beat a tough NFC team on the road.

DT Johnathan Hankins

Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook has been the NFL’s most productive running back through two weeks. He has 265 yards and three touchdowns, gaining an impressive 6.5 yards per carry.

Cook will square off against a surprisingly effective Raiders run defense ranked fifth in the NFL with 63 rushing yards allowed per game. The Silver and Black have been tough to run against thus far, thanks in large part to Johnathan Hankins’ excellent interior line play.

Hankins has been collapsing plays on the inside with regularity, allowing others to fly downhill and make plays on the ball carrier. He lately has been playing most every down, which is a rarity on the defensive front, and the 27-year-old has proven impactful against the run and pass.

“He’s a load in there, and he can move,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said this week. “He’s a big, athletic guy who’s playing some on third down for us now, so he’s shown in the training camp that he can rush. He’s just not this big nose who can play the run and rush some.”

WR Hunter Renfrow

The Raiders need receiving targets not named Tyrell Williams or Darren Waller to take some heat off the top two guys. Renfrow’s certainly capable of creating quick separation and making tough catches. He has to prove quarterback-friendly and take advantage of single coverage inside to keep the chains moving.

If Renfrow’s especially impactful on third downs, the Raiders can be more threatening than they were after the first quarter last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. He only has six catches for 43 yards on 11 targets, which isn’t efficient or productive enough. The Clemson product must do better in Week 3.

DE Arden Key

The second-year pro has not followed a solid training camp and preseason with production in games that actually count. Key’s snap count has dipped a bit, but the LSU product must be more disruptive for the Raiders pass rush to reach another gear. The Raiders have done a good job stopping the run and setting up pass-rush opportunities that aren’t being maximized.

Key has the talent to make big plays -- if he can find ways to finish.

“He’s getting close each and every week,” Guenther said. “It’s going to come. It’s a lot like turnovers, everyone is saying, ‘Hey, you need turnovers!’ One of the things I’ve always said is, if you’re in position and you’re doing the things the right way, turnovers and sacks and those types of things come in bunches, so don’t press. Just keep working your techniques, keep working your moves and get off the ball.”

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C Rodney Hudson

The Vikings have a savvy, talented defensive front capable of causing trouble, one the Raiders offensive line must manhandle against the run and pass despite some injury issues. Trent Brown and Denzelle Good are both questionable heading into this contest, so Hudson must orchestrate the line well regardless of who is playing. Richie Incognito returns after a two-game suspension, so Hudson must integrate him well and assist whomever lines up at right guard.

The Raiders offense falls apart without solid line play, so Hudson must play like the elite talent he is to keep the line going strong.