Beat-up Raiders scrambling to fill holes in key positions

Updated: October 17, 2003, 11:32 AM ET
ESPN

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders are old, and now they're extremely fragile.

It takes coach Bill Callahan several minutes after each practice to give a run down of all his hurt players. And a depleted lineup is the last thing the struggling Raiders need as they prepare for an important Monday night date with unbeaten Kansas City.

Their injury list read 14 players long Thursday -- including 10 starters.

With about one-third of the players over age 30, a major question coming into this season was whether so many veterans could hold up through the grind of another NFL season.

Right now, it doesn't look like it.

Has age finally caught up with the Raiders?

Jerry Rice is 41. Trace Armstrong and Rod Woodson are 38. Rich Gannon, Tim Brown and Bill Romanowski are 37. And 11 others are 30 or older.

Callahan has been with the Raiders since 1998, and this is the most injuries he's seen.

"It weakens the team," four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson said. "You're never at full strength. You get a lot of new guys in there you haven't really worked with. We're seeing a lot of things out there going wrong."

The Raiders are off to an unimpressive 2-4 start after reaching the Super Bowl last season, and they have a tough test ahead with the Chiefs (6-0).

Three offensive linemen are ailing -- right tackle Lincoln Kennedy has a torn left calf, right guard Mo Collins has an injured knee and left guard Frank Middleton has a torn right quadriceps.

"Two of my big dogs are gone," said the 325-pound Collins. "It's time for me to get back in there and carry my weight."

Six players, including five starters, didn't practice Thursday. That makes it hard to get things accomplished because many players are doing double duty to get the Raiders through workouts.

"It's tough. We've rolled a lot of different players from offense to defense," Callahan said. "Quite a number of players have taken on dual roles. I think we've been drastically reduced by injury. It's something I've never been hit with in my tenure here."

Veteran defensive tackle John Parrella missed his first game in nine years last week at Cleveland after hurting himself tackling Chicago's Kordell Stewart a week earlier. Parrella's groin muscle tore away from the bone.

"It kills me to watch," Parrella said. "If we're 6-0 it kills me. Where we're at now kills me. I want to be out there helping my team."

Parrella is doubtful for Monday's game, but said he'll play if it's only the pain he has to overcome.

Receiver Jerry Porter also is doubtful. He is still recovering after multiple hernia surgery last month. Porter, too, is optimistic about getting back on the field.

"Physically, man, gracious, we're getting bad breaks all around," Porter said. "I'm going to show off my 4.9 speed, catch a pass down the middle, score a touchdown and make somebody 6-1."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index