WR has recovered from hernias

Originally Published: October 18, 2003
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Sidelined for five weeks following Sept. 11 surgery to repair two hernias, Oakland wide receiver Jerry Porter will be back for Monday night's game against Kansas City, and his return could be key if the Raiders are to salvage a season quickly slipping away.

"I'm not going to keep it a secret," Raiders coach Bill Callahan said, after Porter survived a second straight full practice session. "We want him (active). Jerry has been a valuable player for our team."

The numbers, in fact, graphically indicate that the fourth-year veteran has been one of the most valuable performers in the Oakland passing attack.

Through the first six games of the 2002 season, in which Porter played every contest, the Raiders wide receivers had 96 catches for 1,302 yards and two touchdowns. This season, with Porter playing just the first half of the season-opening loss at Tennessee, the Raiders wideouts have combined for only 54 receptions, 740 yards and three scores.

The perception has been that, without Porter on the field as the No. 3 wide receiver, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown have struggled to find openings in opposition secondaries. Again, by the numbers, that perception appears to be reality.

A year ago, Rice had 40 catches for 559 yards and three touchdowns in six games. Brown posted 30 receptions, 378 yards and two touchdowns in the same stretch. This year, the Hall of Fame tandem has combined for just 42 receptions, 589 yards and two scores.

"To some extent, yeah, I think my speed makes some difference," acknowledged Porter.

The former West Virginia University star, a second-round choice in the 2000 draft, said he remains a bit stiff from five weeks of inactivity but predicted that won't matter once the matchup with the rival Chiefs begins. Callahan would not say if Porter will start the contest, and the Raiders have gone away some from the three-wideout set they typically employed with him last year, but he will see extensive playing time.

Porter, 25, emerged as one of the NFL's premier No. 3 wide receivers in 2002, when he had 51 catches for 688 yards and a team-best nine touchdown receptions.

The hernias that sidelined him apparently originated late last season, but Porter thought the injury was just a strained groin. He received some treatment in training camp, but the injury worsened, and he was forced to remove himself from the season opener.

Also, the Sacramento Bee reported Saturday that starting right guard Mo Collins, one of three offensive linemen held out of last week's loss at Cleveland, has said he will play Monday night.

"I don't even know what knee hurts anymore. ... It's time for me to get back in there and carry my weight," he told the paper.