ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - The broken leg suffered by Oakland quarterback Derek Carr forced the Raiders to shake up their offense and thrust backup Matt McGloin into the spotlight as the starter.
Veteran safety Nate Allen said it’s also up to the team’s defense to help pick up the slack - a theme echoed by several of his teammates all week.
“It’s still business as usual,” Allen said Friday. “Even when Derek was in, our belief has been that if the other team doesn’t score, they can’t win. That’s always been our mindset.”
With first-round draft pick Karl Joseph still nursing a nagging toe injury that has hindered him for nearly a month, Allen is likely to make his fourth consecutive start when the Raiders end the regular season Sunday in Denver.
The 14th overall pick in the draft, Joseph returned to practice after sitting out the previous three weeks, but has been limited each of the past two days and is listed as doubtful on the injury report.
Allen, a starter in 2015 before injuries cut his season short, has played well while Joseph has been out. He has 24 tackles in the past three games and had his second interception of the season last week against Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck that helped set up Oakland’s first score.
This week the Raiders play a Broncos team that has already announced its intention to rotate quarterbacks Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian in the regular-season finale. Allen doesn’t think it will cause much of a problem for Oakland’s defense.
“If you do what you do well you’ll be OK,” Allen said. “Lynch is pretty athletic and so is Siemian. They kind of stick to their offense and don’t change much.”
The Raiders can clinch a first-round bye by beating the Broncos. A loss coupled with a Kansas City win over San Diego would drop Oakland to the No. 5 seed.
That the Raiders are in a position to rely on their defense says a great deal considering they’re ranked 30th overall while giving up nearly 377 yards per game. Oakland has made up for its deficiencies by being adept at forcing turnovers. The Raiders lead the NFL with a plus-18 margin and have at least one interception in seven consecutive games.
“We’ve just stuck together,” Allen said. “It doesn’t matter what the outside world is saying. We’ve continued to work and tried to get better week by week.”
Allen isn’t the only Oakland backup getting extra work this week.
Rookie quarterback Connor Cook has been taking reps with the starting offense after spending most of the year running the scout team in practice. Cook, Oakland’s fourth-round pick who has been buried on the depth chart, could play for the first time this season if anything happens to McGloin.
“He’s done a nice job all year with the work he gets and the attention to detail,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “I think he’s really matured, become more comfortable in what we’re asking him to do. The ball comes out of his hand nice. I think all the signs are real positive for Connor as we go forward.”
NOTES: Del Rio said that Carr, who underwent surgery on his leg earlier this week, will not accompany to the team to Denver. . LG Kelechi Osemele practiced for the first time after sitting out the previous two days with an ankle injury. He was limited and is questionable. Backup RT Austin Howard is out with a shoulder injury.
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