When the Chiefs running backs broke down their positional huddle on Friday afternoon, the generic “RBs” shout from past seasons had been replaced. The newer post-practice mantra now matches Kansas City’s seasonal goal of being the best rushing team in the NFL. It’s a reminder to keep the ending in mind following each and every practice.
“The last few days we hadn’t been saying it like we wanted to, so I stopped and said ‘if we want to be the best backs in the league we have to say it like we want it for the rest of the year, and say it with pride,” RB
Kansas City’s runners have proved to be the NFL’s best group through eight weeks, but they’re set to go head-to-head with the league’s second-ranked rushing offense on Sunday. Led by Darren McFadden, the Raiders have actually out-gained the Chiefs rushing offense over the past two weeks, but still sit more than 20 yards per game behind Kansas City’s 190.4 rushing average.
The battle of two strong running games underwrites the latest installment in this classic rivalry and it’s something that both teams have taken notice of heading into Sunday.
“(Darren) McFadden is a great running back and I just have to go out there and out-play him this week,” Charles said. “I know that he’s going to go out there and play for his team, so I have to step up for our team.”
Earlier this week, Raiders head coach Tom Cable indicated that his runners have also acknowledged the rushing battle set for this weekend. His group feels as if they are the best in the league and are eager to match their game against Kansas City’s.
“I know that it has their attention,” Cable said. “It’s just going to come down to who executes the most on game day.”
Let the games begin.
Injury Status - Chiefs
Of the three, Lilja looks to have the greatest chance for playing against Oakland. He practiced in full with the first-team offense throughout the week wearing a large cast on his hand. If Lilja is active, he’ll be playing with a cast for the first time since he did so as a freshman at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Shawnee Mission, KS.
Both Lewis and McCluster were limited participants in Friday’s practice. LB
The final injury report for the Chiefs…
QUESTIONABLE: S Kendrick Lewis (hamstring), G Ryan Lilja (hand) and WR Dexter McCluster (ankle)
Injury Status - Oakland
In Oakland, CB Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle) and TE Zach Miller (foot) missed Friday’s practice and have officially been ruled doubtful for Sunday’s game. Both are key injury casualties for the Raiders.
“Anytime there is a potential of an All-Pro guy not playing, it’s a good thing for us,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said on Friday.
Miller is Oakland’s top pass catcher with 34 receptions for 461 yards and four TDs, while Asomugha has the ability to dictate an opposing offensive game plan when he’s in the game. Baring any rapid healing, the absence of those two players opens up multiple options on each side of the football for Kansas City.
The Raiders have also ruled out their second-leading receiver, Louis Murphy. Between Murphy and Miller, Oakland will likely leave 55 catches, 798 yards and five TDs on the sidelines this Sunday.
Oakland’s official injury report reads as follows…
OUT: DT John Henderson (foot), WR Louis Murphy (chest), WR Chaz Schilens (knee)
DOUBTFUL: CB Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle), TE Zach Miller (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: S Hiram Eugene (pectoral)
PROBABLE: QB Bruce Gradkowski (right shoulder), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (shoulder), C Samson Satele (knee)
Raiders Speed Concerns Chiefs
Year-in and year-out, the Raiders seem to assemble the top track squad in the NFL. Oakland teams are almost always among the fastest in the league, but this year’s Raiders have combining that speed with other skill sets to put them back into the AFC West hunt.
“Their skill position guys are all really fast and then they have been running the ball really well with their running backs and their fullback runs the ball really well,” Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel said.
Oakland currently ranks fourth in the NFL with 35 plays of 20 yards. Of those 35 snaps, 12 have come via the ground game to rank second only behind the New York Giants (14).
“They can hurt you long-range, they’ve got receivers that can score from anywhere on the field running with the football and without it and they’ve got running backs that can score from anywhere on the field and a couple quarterbacks that can get the ball to those guys,” Coach Todd Haley said. “That’s what scares you – they’re a very good running team but they do all the other things also.”
The Raiders are playing some of the best football in the league right now, particularly when it comes to running the football. With key members of the Raiders receiving core in question for Sunday, stopping the run becomes even more important.
The Country Club Plaza has chosen Chiefs running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones to fill an iconic role this Thanksgiving. Charles and Jones will officially kick off the holiday season in Kansas City by flipping the switch at the 81st Plaza Lighting Ceremony on Thanksgiving Night.
The Plaza Lighting Ceremony represents a long-standing holiday tradition and is one of the most attended annual events in the city.
“I know it’s a big deal around here,” Jones said. “I talked to Scott (Pioli) and Todd (Haley) and it seemed like something that would be really fun for us to do.”
The program is set to begin at 6:00 PM, with the flip of the switch by Charles and Jones scheduled to take place at 6:50 PM. The two KC runners will light the Plaza from the main stage in front of XXI Forever, at the intersection of Nichols Road and Wyandotte on the Country Club Plaza. Fireworks displays begin immediately after the flip of the switch, above the main stage and atop The InterContinental Hotel. The ceremony wraps up at 7:00 PM.
KCTV Channel 5 will broadcast live from the Plaza starting with the evening newscast at 4:00 PM. The full hour-long ceremony will be shown in its entirety from 6:00 – 7:00 PM.
The Chiefs have a long-standing tradition of participating in the Plaza Lighting Ceremony. Just some of the notable Chiefs that have participated in the past include, RB Marcus Allen, LB Bobby Bell, QB Trent Green, Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, LB Willie Lanier, and LB Derrick Thomas. Other famous Kansas Citians that have also flipped the switch include, Oleta Adams, George Brett, Walter Cronkite, Maurice Green, Buck O’Neil, Paul Rudd, and Kate Spade.
“I’m really happy that I can do it with one of my fellow running backs,” Charles said. “It’s a big deal around here and I love to be a part of it.”
The Plaza Lights shine daily from 5:00 PM. to 3:00 AM, Thanksgiving through Sunday, January 16th, 2011. All Plaza parking garages will be open and accessible for the event.
For more on the Plaza Lighting Ceremony, visit the Plaza’s website.