A victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday would get the Raiders to 4-4 at the midpoint of the season. They haven't won more than three games in the first half since 2002.
"That would be very, very good for us," Raiders coach Tom Cable said, "but the focus has been, let's go out there and improve on what we need to, get ready for Seattle and play our butts off, and that stuff will happen. One thing we've all kind of learned is, don't worry about the winning and losing, worry about the process and being ready to play and what it takes to beat this opponent."
The Raiders finished the first half of the season at 2-6 six of the past seven seasons. They were 3-5 in 2005. Cable said quarterback Jason Campbell will start Sunday, even though regular starter Bruce Gradkowski (shoulder) is healthy enough to step in, if needed. Gradkowski might be the No. 2 quarterback, a role occupied by Kyle Boller the past two games. Punt returner/backup wide receiver Nick Miller suffered a sprained ankle in practice Friday. His status for the Seahawks game is up in the air. Johnnie Lee Higgins will return punts if Miller is unable to play, Cable said. Miller replaced Higgins earlier this season. Nickel cornerback Chris Johnson still hasn't passed the required tests for players who suffer a concussion, and remains ineligible to play. Rookie Jeremy Ware will assume Johnson's role if Johnson is out. Budding defensive end Chris Clemons spurned the Raiders' one-year contract offer after a 2007 season in which he tied for the team lead with eight sacks. Instead, he opted for a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Against Seattle, the Raiders face Clemons for the second straight season. Clemons leads Seattle with 51/2 sacks. Clemons, 28, had never recorded more than three sacks before his breakout season with the Raiders as a situational pass rusher. He started only two games during his one season in Oakland, yet tied Derrick Burgess for the team lead in sacks.
Matt Shaughnessy leads these Raiders with four sacks through seven games. Clemons has played six games. Defensive coordinator John Marshall was with the Seahawks for the six seasons before being hired by the Raiders in 2009. He coached linebackers from 2003-05 and was defensive coordinator from 2006-08. The Seahawks are on their second coach since Marshall left, so he doesn't foresee gaining an edge from his time around the team.
"There's none, scheme-wise, other than Matt Hasselbeck being a West Coast quarterback," Marshall said. "That part of it is still intact. The routes have changed, the philosophy, that kind of thing. Not many of the players are still there from when I was there." Oakland native Marshawn Lynch will make his Coliseum debut as an NFL player, when he takes the field as the Seahawks' lead running back. Lynch, an Oakland Tech High graduate, spent his first three seasons with the Buffalo Bills before being traded to the Seahawks after four games this season. The former Cal star rushed 41 times in his first two games with the Seahawks and, Marshall said, "has juiced up their run game."