Redskins

Raiders secondary facing huge hurdle in Falcons QB

Raiders secondary facing huge hurdle in Falcons QB

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Oakland cornerback Michael Huff hasn't had much time to rest since changing positions to help the Raiders' injury-ravaged secondary.

He's not likely to get a break this week either.

After trying to knock down passes thrown by Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Denver's Peyton Manning in successive weeks, Huff and the Raiders return from the bye with the task of trying to slow down what has been one of the NFL's most prolific passing attacks through the first month of the season.

``I definitely got thrown into the fire,'' Huff said Thursday. ``But I'm still expected to go out there and make plays.''

Oakland's pass defense has struggled just defending one good receiver this season, let alone an explosive tandem like Atlanta's Roddy White and Julio Jones.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan also has the second-highest passer rating in the NFL and has already thrown for 1,507 yards and 13 touchdowns.

That trio, along with tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Michael Bennett, has helped the unbeaten Falcons surge to the top of the NFC.

``Matt Ryan is definitely a top five quarterback the way he's playing right now,'' Huff said. ``They've got a great offense. We have to make our fair share of plays, get turnovers and get the ball back to our offense. That's really the only way to slow them down.''

The Raiders are again relying on a patchwork lineup in their secondary.

Huff was moved from free safety after injuries sidelined starters Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer and the backups struggled to pick up the slack. Pat Lee, Oakland's other starting cornerback, had started only one game in three previous seasons before replacing Bartell in Week 2.

Both have had their share of problems in coverage, something they'll have to improve significantly going against the pass-happy Falcons.

Gonzalez leads the NFL with 39 catches while White and Jones have combined for 57 receptions, 794 yards and seven touchdowns.

``You've got to pick your poison at times,'' Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. ``They're very explosive on the outside with their receivers. Obviously, Tony still works the middle of the field extremely well. Then if you play for the pass too much, they've still got a good running game.''

Oakland is seventh in the NFL against the pass but the Raiders are one of only two teams without an interception. Detroit is the other.

Allen, the team's first defensive-minded head coach since John Madden was hired by late owner Al Davis in 1969, and his staff have stressed to players the need to create more turnovers.

``What we've done schematically is try to put our guys in the best position to be successful,'' Allen said. ``We can't get discouraged and we've got to continue to compete all the way until the end. We were able to do that one game this year. We'll see what we're able to do this week.''

Slowing the Falcons down might be a little tougher this week if defensive tackle Tommy Kelly isn't available.

Kelly injured his foot in practice earlier this week and was held out of Thursday's workout. The injury isn't serious and Kelly is expected to return to practice Friday and play against the Falcons this weekend.

``I fully anticipate that he'll practice tomorrow and be OK to play,'' Allen said. ``We'll evaluate that tomorrow and see where we're at. He seems to think he's going to be all right.''

The Raiders are still uncertain whether veteran defensive end Andre Carter will be activated for the game. Carter signed with the team on Sept. 26 and has since been trying to get up to speed with the rest of the defense.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Though the refs did, the Redskins saw nothing wrong with Clay Matthews' hit on Alex Smith

Though the refs did, the Redskins saw nothing wrong with Clay Matthews' hit on Alex Smith

A few years ago, the hit would've been celebrated. Last year, it would've gone down as a drive-ending sack.

But in 2018, with the NFL's new emphasis on defenders not being able to fall on quarterbacks with a lot of force, Clay Matthews' very normal-looking third quarter takedown of Alex Smith was ruled roughing the passer.

As a result, the Redskins got to stay on the field. And for the second week in a row, Matthews found himself at the center of a very controversial call.

"Unfortunately, this league is going in a direction that a lot of people don't like and I think they're getting soft," the veteran said after Washington's 31-17 win over Green Bay. "I've been playing this game for over 20 years and that's how you tackle."

Matthews has a point. In a sport that's concerned about dirty or dangerous collisions, this looks like a flawless hit:

But the roughing the passer flag was tossed not because of where Matthews hit Smith or when he hit him. The issue, in the eyes of the officials, is the way he finished the sequence.

"I had judged that the defender landed on the quarterback when he was tackling him with most or all of his body weight and that's not allowed," referre Craig Wrolstad said following the contest. "That was basically my key, that he landed on him with most or all of his body weight."

The person on the not-so-fun end of the exchange had no problem with it, though.

"It's tough," Smith said during his time at the FedEx Field podium. "I'm glad I don't play defense... I felt like he’s playing football. He’s played a long time. He hit me right in the strike zone."

Smith wasn't the only 'Skin to speak out in support of Matthews, either.

"What else do you want the man to do?" Josh Norman (who actually has the same agent as Matthews) asked reporters in the home locker room. "Like, seriously, what else do you want the man to do? "

"When I saw it, there was no malicious, ill intent," Norman continued. "I understand the rules of the situation, but at the same time, it sucks being a defender now. They hit your pockets and then they hit you for a penalty."

The NFL is clearly trying to make itself safer, which is both smart and necessary. But its approach in how its doing so has been confusing in a few critical areas, and this part of roughing the passer enforcement has temporarily surpassed the catch rule and the helmet rule as the most muddled of them all.

After all, when the QB and other opponents have no complaints about a tackle but the refs and the wording of the rule do, there's a disconnect. One that should be addressed.

"I think there's some gray area here with this that needs to be ironed out," Smith observed.  

For a signal caller who was accurate for much of the afternoon, that statement might've been the most on-point part of his day.

MORE REDSKINS TALK

Quick Links

Trent Williams to undergo 'minor' surgery, expected to play in Week 5

ap_18254241652441.jpg
AP Images

Trent Williams to undergo 'minor' surgery, expected to play in Week 5

Following an offseason procedure on his right knee, Trent Williams looked back and better than ever during Redskins' OTAs prior to the start of this season. However, we have now learned that Williams' knee has been bothering him despite the successful offseason surgery.

According to ABC 7's Erin Hawksworth, Trent Williams will be undergoing a 'minor procedure' on his right knee Monday.

The procedure is believed to be a 'clean up,' to ensure Williams' knee has held up post-surgery.

With Week 4 being an early bye-week for the Redskins, Williams has a little extra time to recover before his anticipated return during Week 5 vs. the New Orleans Saints.

The 30-year-old is in his ninth season with the Redskins and has been selected to the Pro Bowl six times. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: