Oakland Raiders Must Get Healthy In Bye Week

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September 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to your “New” 2014 season Raider Nation….New Coach, New Philosophy, and hopefully a New Mindset for the Oakland Raiders.

It has been a tumultuous 4 weeks of the season, leading to the firing of Head Coach Dennis Allen after the blowout loss in London. Tony Sparano is our new interim Head Coach, and with that comes a glimmer of hope that the Raiders can salvage the 2014 season.

The list is long when it talking about the deficiencies and mistakes of this Oakland Raider team. But one aspect that I feel has been overlooked has been injuries to key players on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.The Oakland Raiders are a team short on depth, and need to be near full strength if they hope to compete to finish out this 2014 season.

Defensive Injuries:

On Defense it starts with the man in the middle Nick Roach, who has yet to start a regular season game due to injury. Roach is not your typical 3-4 inside linebacker, but provides excellent leadership, communication, and understanding of the defense that made the players around him better. Raider Nation has seen his replacement and it has not looked pretty resulting in blown assignments, miscommunication, and poor tackling. Having Nick Roach back on the field would go a long way to getting this Raiders defense back to respectability.

Another Linebacker who has been sorely missed has been Sio Moore. Moore is one of the few playmakers the Raiders have, not just on defense but on the entire team. Moore has battled injuries through out the year, and has also shown some mental mistakes in his new position at weak side linebacker. In the end though Moore is a dynamic young player who needs to be on the field for the Raiders. The combination of Sio and Khalil Mack should develop into one of the best linebacker duo’s in the league.

In the secondary the injuries continue to limit the Oakland Raiders defense. For the second year in a row both DJ Hayden and Tyvon Branch will have missed significant time this season. Branch has now been officially placed on Injured Reserve with a broken foot. Last year he hoped to bounce back from a broken leg injury, that eventually cost him the entire 2013 season. Ian Rappaport via Twitter reported

"“With Branch out for the rest of the season, he’ll have played just five of a possible 32 games over the past two years. He has a $9.6 million cap number in 2015, and the Raiders would have to eat over $6 million of it to cut him.”"

Cutting Branch should be out of the question given his potential and still young age, but in the end he has never developed into the Pro Bowl caliber player Raider’s fans and coaches were hoping for when he re-signed with the Raiders in 2012.

And so it continues……The injury saga that has plagued DJ Hayden’s collegiate and professional career has continued into his second season with the Raiders. Hayden was placed on the reserve/PUP list back in August with a foot injury, and is forced to miss the Raiders first six games. Hayden’s physical potential and perseverance through adversity made him Reggie McKenzie’s top pick in 2013, but Hayden being unable to prove his worth on the field may cost McKenzie his job in the future. In the end Hayden needs a strong second half of the season and could eventually be the superstar at cornerback the Raiders and McKenzie were hoping for.

Rounding out the defensive injury list is special teams ace Taiwan Jones, whose loss on special teams should not be overlooked. Signed to a 4-year $5 million dollar extension in February, Jones found a place in Reggie McKenzie’s new regime after being drafted by Al Davis in the 2011 NFL Draft as a running back.