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NFL Preview - Jacksonville (0-1) at Oakland (0-1)
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Suddenly, the Oakland Raiders are back among the living.
A week after their opponents were go-to selections in survival pools across the NFL, the Silver and Black will assume that very familiar role when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars in a Week 2 battle of the winless at Oakland- Alameda County Coliseum.
The Raiders made it difficult for the Week 1 favorites -- in this case, the Indianapolis Colts -- before succumbing, 21-17. Meanwhile, the woeful Jaguars played pretty well according to the -- they're not very good -- script while dropping a one-sided 28-2 decision at home to the Kansas City Chiefs.
On the Jacksonville side, at least, there's little reason to forecast a one- week reversal.
Already under the microscope while the powers-that-be determine if he's a worthy "quarterback of the future," third-year man Blaine Gabbert did little to distance himself from next-in-line pursuer Chad Henne while completing just 16-of-35 throws for 121 yards and a pair of interceptions.
One of the picks was returned for a touchdown, and the former No. 10 overall pick was sacked six times.
And, to literally add injury to insult, Gabbert had to leave the game in the fourth quarter after the back of his throwing hand was sliced over on a scramble. Fifteen stitches were required to repair the gash, which is the latest in a litany of maladies for the former University of Missouri star.
He missed six games last season with a right arm problem, then missed two preseason games last month with a hairline fracture in his right thumb.
"It's got to heal and we need to keep it clean," coach Gus Bradley said. "The big concern would be with all the stitches that it could reopen and then the chance of infection occurs. So we're going to handle that right."
Henne, who was 13-17 in 30 starts over three seasons with the Miami Dolphins, won once in six starts while subbing in for Gabbert with the Jaguars in 2012. He completed three of six passes for 36 yards in relief last week and will start if Gabbert is unable to go.
While discussing that potential role after the loss to the Chiefs, Henne was clearly turned to the cliches page of the Backup Players Songbook.
"It's been a roller coaster, but at the same time, I just try to keep a level head," he said. "I go out there each and every day, try to get better and compete and just show the coaching staff that I'm ready whenever my number's called. You never know what's going to go on throughout the season. There are injuries that happen, and I just have to stay ready at all times."
In 10 appearances as a starter and an in-game replacement last season, Henne threw for 2,084 yards and equaled his 11 interceptions with 11 touchdowns.
"If there's one good out of that, now we have a guy that's seasoned, that's played a lot of football for us," Bradley said. "We have a lot of faith in Chad. I know that he's a guy we felt strongly about going through the whole process."
On the Raiders' sideline, the QB of the future question is a lot closer to answered.
Third-year man Terrelle Pryor, the former Ohio State standout, worked with the second-team offense for most of the week leading up to Oakland's opener with Indianapolis before coach Dennis Allen changed his mind and put him ahead of Matt Flynn at game time.
His second NFL start yielded a 19-for-29 performance through the air for 217 yards and a touchdown, in addition to 13 carries for 112 yards on the ground. In doing so, Pryor became just the eighth passer since 1970 to threw for at least 200 yards and run for at least 100 in the same game.
He looked like a youngster on the game's final drive, however, when an interception in Indianapolis territory in the final minute was the coffin- sealer to the Raiders' 21-17 loss. He also had a pick in Colts territory on Oakland's first possession of the game.
"This one's on me," Pryor said. "Everybody else did a great job. The receivers did a great job catching the ball when they had a chance. There's no one really to point fingers at but me, literally, this time. I'll take the blame and get better. We'll be better. It's a process when you're trying to get better at something. I feel like I got better at throwing the ball and that I can take a team downfield with my arm."
Allen, who was 4-12 in his initial coaching year with the Raiders in 2012, was particularly enamored by how Pryor can dictate a game with his legs.
"That's the element that he brings," he said. "That's always going to be there; his ability to create, his ability to make things happen with his feet. The thing that we judge on the practice field is his ability to make good decisions, his ability to throw the ball on time, with accuracy. Those are things that we want to see that he continues to improve because that's what's going to make him a really good quarterback."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Presuming he's tapped as the Week 2 starter, Henne will face an Oakland defense that was surprisingly effective in its opener against prolific 2012 rookie Andrew Luck. The Colts star managed only 147 yards through the air, which might mean Henne will spend a good deal of his time turning and handing to Maurice Jones-Drew, who had 45 yards on 15 attempts against Kansas City.
Going the other way, Pryor is precisely what the Jaguars defense doesn't need, a player who can win with legs or arm. Assigning a player or designing a scheme to limit his mobility could result in clearer run lanes for back Darren McFadden (48 yards on 17 carries in Week 1) or freed-up space down the field for Rod Streater and Denarius Moore, each of whom caught five passes last week.
Admittedly, while one week doth not a resurgent 1980s powerhouse make, the Raiders were a lot closer to respectability in their opener -- against a 2012 playoff team -- than Jacksonville was against a team that was 2-14 last season. And, though the injury prompted switch to Henne this week may actually be an upgrade over Gabbert, the trip across the country to participate in another team's home opener probably won't be.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Raiders 20, Jaguars 11
09/12 11:24:48 ET
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