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Most Important Guys You’ve Never Heard Of: Oakland Raiders

Once again, it is time to play the Raiders in Oakland. So, even if they are not on police blotters, or Sports Center, the rivals are fully stocked with Most Important Guys You’ve Never Heard Of (MIGYNHO).

Andy Lyons

On the Defense

The first thing any Raiders defender may need to do is make sure he remembers the names of his teammates. On opening day, 10 of the 11 defensive starters for the NFL’s ultimate evil were not even on the team in 2012. The rivals have put together a defense of draftees and free agent spare parts, most of them discarded from other teams due to age or career marginal performance. The latter category includes this week’s defensive MIGYNHO, Jason Hunter.

Why He Is Important

Hunter is listed as the team’s starting Left DE. He is tied for the lead in sacks on his team with 2. This sack rate is somewhat of an anomaly for him, as he has 13 total sacks during an NFL career that started in 2006. This week, D.J. Fluker will have a matchup similar to last week’s battle with George Selvie; Hunter is an undersized DE, being listed as 243 pounds at 6’4". It is worth noting that Selvie did get a sack last week and for some peculiar reason, the Bolts chose to not run right too often last week against a man that Fluker outweighed by 100 pounds. The may be an opportunity this week to run right over the undersized defensive lineman.

The rivals need Hunter to continue his late career surge. His prior NFL experience suggests that his sack totals, tackles, and consistent starts so far in 2013 are an illusion. Hunter’s best year was 2009, when he recorded 5 sacks in 9 starts. 2010 was his healthiest year, starting in 12 games and recording 47 Tackles, which was (and is) a career high. Oakland is hoping that he can set a new career ceiling at the age of 30.

Whichever guard lines up next to Fluker, should be mindful of inside stunts, as that was the play that got Selvie his sack. As usual, concern remains about Fluker’s ability to deal with outside speed rushing and it is all but certain that the Oakland defensive coaches will want to test that.

Honorable Mention

Brandian Ross or Usama Young, Safety: Tyvon Branch is out with an ankle injury, so the rivals are going to need to see how their back-ups perform against Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead in the passing game. If you are not smiling right now, you should be. Leave it to Oakland to have guys on their team with names that sound like a drink served in a cocktail bar and the most infamous terrorist that ever lived.

Ross has filled in most of the time so far this season, and has recorded 1 sack and 8 solo tackles in four games. Curious that he has no passes defended or INT’s in those four games. His defensive coaches are probably hoping he can change those stats this week.

On the Offense

There are situations in the NFL that act as reminders that the league could be called the NSL (No Sympathy League) or the NEL (No Excuses League). With the injury bug hitting the rival’s offensive line hard (and hitting it hard) even before the season began, Oakland will probably trot out Matt McCants (T), Andre Gurode (G/C), Lamar Mady (G/C) to form 3/5ths of the Oakland starting line late Sunday night. These guys are so unknown that this section of the article may be as valuable and informative to Oakland fans as it is to BFTB readers, assuming that the whole literacy thing was not an impediment for the typical member of "the Nation".

Why They Are Important

Last week, about the only good news for Washington DC was a win by the R----ins. Already with a banged up O-line, Oakland allowed 7 sacks to a hardly impressive R-----ins defense. Rashad Jennings gained 45 yards total for that game, with 33 yards of that coming after first contact. While Flynn does not have the skill set and athleticism of Terelle Pryor (which reads "Can’t run for his life like Pryor can"), Oakland still needs to protect a QB that is coming off of a concussion. I cannot imagine that the Oakland coaching staff wants to see Pryor having to run all over the field Sunday night.

Oakland has pretty much ruled Stefen Wisniewski out for Sunday night, so it will be up to Gurode or Mady to fill in. Whichever one of those two are not snapping to Pryor will be playing left guard. Andre Gurode was an impressive player in his prime, appearing in 5 straight pro-bowls between 2006 and 2010. Injured in 2011, he was out of football last year and then signed by Oakland this offseason. At the age of 35, it is fairly safe to say that his best years are behind him.

In contrast to Gurode, is Lamar Mady, an undrafted free agent rookie that played his college ball at Youngstown State. He has yet to start a game. Oakland is probably hoping that Wisniewski is well enough to play to able to leave Gurode at Left Guard and save Mady’s first start for another game (or season).

The situation at Tackle is even more muddled. Menelik Watson might play, if he has sufficiently recovered from the scoping his knee got in early September. If he can’t go, Khalif Barnes will play another game at Left Tackle (his preferred position is RT). With Tony Pashos, the back-up RT Tony Pashos banged up and questionable, this may result in Matt McCants starting his first NFL game against the Bolts.

There are a multitude of issues and potential game-time decisions for the Oakland coaching and medical staff that we will probably not fully know until 7:00-7:30 Pacific Time Sunday night. This is one area in which both teams are going to have battle at less than full strength.

Honorable Mention

Rod Streater – WR: The unquestioned top dog in the Oakland receiving corps is Denarius Moore. #2 on that list is Streater, now coming into his second season in the NFL. He has gotten off to a decent start this season; 13 receptions for 171 yards. He has yet to score in 2013. While not putting up gaudy numbers, the 6’3", 200 pound has provided a reliable option for the league’s 26th ranked passing offense. Streater’s main value comes from drawing single coverage, while Moore is usually doubled.