Raiders now thin at WR, FB with Carter, O'Neal out for season
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Lane Kiffin had concerns about depth on the Oakland Raiders even before two key offensive players went down with season-ending knee injuries.
"Obviously, both were really down, especially Drew," Kiffin said in a conference call Sunday. "He's had so many things like this happen to him. I believe this might be his fourth ACL maybe in his career. He's had a lot of tough breaks injury-wise so he was on a one-year contract so this was very tough for him."
It also was a tough break for the Raiders, who were counting on Carter to perform after signing him to a $2 million contract in the offseason. He set career highs last season with 38 catches for 517 yards and four touchdowns for Carolina last season and was one of only three experienced receivers on Oakland's roster.
Now the Raiders will need to look for a veteran to complement Javon Walker and Ronald Curry. Kiffin said they could go after an out-of-work veteran or wait until other teams make their cuts this week to find someone to replace Carter. Two possible options are Joe Horn, released last week by Atlanta, and Koren Robinson, who remains unsigned.
The Raiders will need to do something because their entire backup group at wide receiver has just seven career catches. Johnnie Lee Higgins had six receptions as a rookie, and Chris McFoy has one career catch.
"There's not a lot of history there as far as guys playing in the league besides Javon and Ronald," Kiffin said. "Really, none of those guys have really played before. So it would be tough to only go with two guys who have played before."
Curry led the Raiders with 55 receptions for 717 yards last season, but had only 11 catches in the final five games last season. Curry has 174 career receptions for 2,166 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Walker has 252 career catches for 3,815 yards and 30 scores, but is coming off a 26-catch season when he was slowed by a knee injury.
"I've been in this position before when I was in Denver and Jay Cutler was in his first year starting, and I was the only receiver and Brandon Marshall came along," Walker said. "So, it's nothing new for me. I just know what I do and I know what I can go out and bring. So, I'm just going to do that, execute and make plays."
The injury could open the door for both Todd Watkins and rookie Chaz Schilens to make the roster. Watkins has been the most consistent receiver in practice and has five catches in the first three preseason games.
Schilens, a seventh-round pick out of San Diego State, has shown some flashes and has three catches so far.
The Raiders are also thin at fullback, where O'Neal was expected to team with Justin Griffith this season. O'Neal showed the ability to be a strong blocker in the running game last year as a rookie, often being used for long stretches when Oakland relied heavily on the ground game.
Now the only other fullback on the roster is Marcel Reece, an undrafted free agent who played receiver last year in college at Washington.
"That's a big deal right there," Kiffin said. "There are a number of games last year he played even more for us than Justin. He's a guy when we run the ball he is in there play after play, a physical attitude."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Crabtree responds to Sherman: Tired of talk
- Jones-Drew: London deserves an NFL team
- Johnson: Lions 'need to win a Super Bowl'
- Pack hold off Favre return, afraid of booing
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
TRAINING CAMP 2008
Commentary/featuresWarner proves he has future
The Cardinals gave Kurt Warner the chance to compete with Matt Leinart for the starting spot, and the 37-year-old quarterback made the most of the opportunity. John Clayton
Pennington's learning curve
It seemed the Jets could not help Chad Pennington pack his bags fast enough. Now the most experienced QB on the Dolphins, he's relishing the chance to excel again.
• Kreidler: Future still promising for 49ers' Smith
• Clayton: Injuries impact preseason
• Seifert: A new approach in Detroit
• Smith: Favre drama a reality check for McNabb
• Kuharsky: Titans focused on defense
• Sando: Running key for Holmgren's swan song
• Mosley: Giants hope history teaches well
• Garber: Coughlin distances from SB win
• Williamson: Chiefs engergized by youth
• Chadiha: O-line might hold real keys for Jets
• Wickersham: Three tips for Favre
• Mosley: Giants done with celebrating
• Naylor: Canadian divide on NFL invasion
• Graham: Sleeper Bills | Blog: Yo, Canada
• Seifert: For a change, no distractions for Vikes
• Mosley: McNabb confident Eagles among elite
• Kuharsky: Garrard taking control
• Mosley: Eagles poised to return to prominence
• Clayton: Young on his way to elite status
• Kuharsky: Garrard ready to lead Jags
• Chadiha: Delhomme determined to seize moment
• Yasinskas: Smith's approach suits Falcons
• Mosley: Zorn's coaching desire finally fulfilled
• Williamson: Young Raiders share Kiffin's hunger
• Graham: Jets wiping slate clean
• Chadiha: Turner ready to lead Falcons
• Clayton: Vikings firmly in Jackson's corner
• Walker: Tough schedule awaits Steelers in 2008
• Mosley: Favre is QB turned ringmaster
• Clayton: 5 reasons Favre would start for Pack
• Graham: Patriots not dwelling on past
• Sando: Rams optimistic despite questions
• Williamson: Shanahan points to playoffs
• Walker: Bengals look to move past chaos
• Yasinskas: Delhomme, Peppers must step up
NFL blog network• NFL Nation blog
• AFC: North | South | East | West
• NFC: North | South | East | West
• Contact our bloggers
Camp Confidential training camp tourA breakdown of our annual camp tour:
• Wednesday, July 30: Chargers, Cowboys
• Thursday, July 31: Texans, 49ers
• Friday, Aug. 1: Patriots
• Saturday, Aug. 2: Bengals, Panthers
• Sunday, Aug. 3: Broncos
• Monday, Aug. 4: Rams
• Tuesday, Aug. 5: Steelers
• Wednesday, Aug. 6: Jets
• Thursday, Aug. 7: Raiders | Redskins
• Friday, Aug. 8: Falcons
• Saturday, Aug. 9: Jaguars
• Tuesday, Aug. 12: Eagles | Vikings
• Wednesday, Aug. 13: Bills
• Thursday, Aug. 14: Chiefs
• Friday, Aug. 15: Giants | Seahawks
• Saturday, Aug. 16: Bucs | Lions
• Sunday, Aug. 17: Browns
• Monday, Aug. 18: Titans
Video• NFL Insiders on Bills, Broncos, more
• Rachel Nichols on Favre, Jets
• NFL Live dissects ESPN.com power rankings
Audio• Podcast: Biggest questions
Scouts Inc.• Camp outlook: AFC Q&A on X's and O's
• Camp outlook: NFC Q&A on X's and O's
• Notable quarterback battles
- Fathead Oakland Raiders Original AFL Logo Wall Graphic