ALAMEDA -- The Raiders haven’t played a home game in forever. They played Kansas City on Sept. 15 and then were either on the road or on a bye for the next six weeks.
The time away from Oakland Coliseum will end Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Frankly, the Raiders can’t wait.
“It’s going to be rowdy, I know that,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “I think our fans miss us, and I think we miss them. We need a home game. We need to see each other, that’s for sure. We miss one another. I can’t wait to see our fans when I come running out the tunnel, there’s nothing like it.”
The Raiders will get that opportunity three weeks in a row, facing the Lions, and Chargers and Bengals (oh my!) in consecutive games at Oakland Coliseum.
That’s a drastic change compared to the recent Raiders experience, playing in Minnesota, then Indianapolis and then London, with trips to Green Bay and Houston back-to-back after a bye.
It’s an unprecedented run before this season, though Tampa Bay has a similar experience this season.
“I’m going to actually have dinner with my wife Friday night. I kind of miss her,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “It’s been tough. I’ve sarcastically had fun with it. I’ve never seen a team go six weeks without a home game, but we were able to withstand it. We won two out of five. We would’ve like to win three out of five, but our guys are playing hard. I think all the travel helped our team bond a little bit. It’ll be pretty neat to play in our home stadium. We have eight or nine players that have never played there. So, it’ll be a foreign experience once again for us.”
That number is shockingly higher following a run of roster moves. The Raiders have 10 players on their 53-man roster who have never played a regular-season home game at Oakland Coliseum. That’s nearly 20 percent of the roster. Wrap your head around that.
The Raiders have experienced some setbacks on the road but have weathered then en route to a 3-4 record that could certainly be better. While spending so much time in hotels has brought the team closer, such a stretch can take a toll on a team.
“I try to do a good job of taking care of my body with nutrition and sleep and all that, but those miles add up,” Carr said. “You hate to -- I’m glad we’re done with it, that’s for sure. There’s no excuse. Come game time, I feel great. But after a while, you’re like, another trip, another Friday we have to leave. I kind of want to take my wife on a date. I think that being able to sleep in our beds an extra night or two is going to be really good for our team.”
It'll be even better for the team if Oakland Coliseum is packed with rowdy Raiders fans.
“I hope it’s rocking. I hope it is,” Gruden said. “It’s always the same to me. It’ll be great to be at home and play in front of our fans. We can’t wait to get out there.”