|Raiders DL Kelly out for season with knee injury|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 31 October 2007 13:43|
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -The Oakland Raiders have had trouble stopping the run all season. Now they have to fix that problem without their most consistent lineman.|
Tommy Kelly will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ligament in his right knee, the latest injury to hit Oakland's defensive line. Pro Bowl end Derrick Burgess missed two games earlier this season with a calf injury and tackle Gerard Warren is expected to miss his fourth straight game with an injured quadriceps.
Now it's Kelly who is out.
``The train won't stop because he got hurt like that, so we have to keep going,'' defensive tackle Terdell Sands said.
Kelly's play had impressed his teammates, with seven-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp predicting Kelly would be better than he has been by the end of his career. That's heady praise for a player who signed with the Raiders in 2004 as an undrafted and unheralded free agent from Mississippi State.
Kelly had 27 solo tackles and one sack this season, moving back and forth between end and tackle with ease. He also came up with one of the biggest plays of the season for Oakland, blocking a potential winning 40-yard field goal attempt by Cleveland's Phil Dawson on Sept. 23.
``You can't replace Tommy Kelly,'' said rookie end Jay Richardson, who is expected to start at end in place of Kelly on Sunday against Houston. ``Tommy was one our premier defensive linemen, super productive. He can play everything on the line from end to nose. You really miss a guy like that. All you can do if you're me is go in there and try to be productive as I can and just help out.''
Because of the injuries on the line, Richardson has gotten plenty of chances to play this season. He has started four games, including one against Kansas City because Kelly was in the bathroom for the first play.
The fifth-round pick from Ohio State has eight solo tackles and one pass defensed.
``I don't get as many pregame jitters,'' Richardson said. ``It's starting to become second nature. Just like it was in college, almost.''
With Warren and Kelly sidelined, the Raiders are down to six healthy defensive linemen on the active roster. Coach Lane Kiffin said he planned to bring in some players for tryouts Thursday and also could choose to activate Josh Shaw from the practice squad.
The Raiders' struggling run defense figures to be tested even more. Oakland has allowed a league-worst 5.3 yards per carry and is third worst in the NFL by allowing 148.9 yards per game. An amazing one out of every six runs against the Raiders goes for at least 10 yards.
With the Texans planning to start backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels on Sunday, Richardson expects even more runs to come his direction.
``I hope so,'' he said. ``The way I look at it is if they run the ball at me that's more chances for me to make plays. I think I saw it a little bit last week in the game. As soon as Tommy went out, I went in there and the next three plays went right at me. That's what I'm expecting and that's what I have to be ready for on Sunday.''
The Raiders also signed receiver Tim Dwight on Wednesday to replace the released Mike Williams and had rookie running back Michael Bush practice with the team for the first time.
Dwight has not played a game since last Nov. 26, for the New York Jets. He was placed on injured reserve after that with a foot injury and was on the physically unable to perform list during training camp before being cut by the Jets.
Dwight had 16 catches, nine on third-down plays, for 112 yards before his injury last year. Dwight was also the team's primary punt returner with a 10.4-yard average. With Ronald Curry slowed by a sore foot and the Raiders carrying only four receivers, Dwight could be needed as a wideout Sunday.
He also was brought in to spark the team's punt return game. Dwight has averaged 9.8 yards per punt return in his career with three scores. With Chris Carr and Johnnie Lee Higgins handling those duties, Oakland is 31st in the league with a 4.5 yard average per return this season.
Bush, a fourth-round pick, was on the reserve/non-football injury list after breaking his leg in the season opener last season at Louisville. He practiced for the first time with the team Wednesday, starting the 21-day clock for the Raiders to choose whether to activate him or place him on injured reserve.
``I was real nervous going in because I was like I'm always just standing around watching,'' he said. ``Guys are fast and flying to the ball. Just being out there, you're going through the same thing like going to college. In this league, there's only horses, you just try to run fast like those guys.''
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