|Denarius Moore key for Raiders on Sunday
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ALAMEDA -- Not to put too much pressure on the kid, but the potential return of Denarius Moore to the field Sunday against Detroit gives the Raiders a significant bump.
Technically, the rookie receiver is listed as questionable for the game but he practiced three times this week for the first time since going down with an injured right ankle and foot at Minnesota on Nov. 20.
"I think it helps, because obviously he's a playmaker and he knows how to make plays and can make plays," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said of Moore. "So it gives you another weapon that you haven't had at your disposal. He's very dynamic with what he does. It helps, but by no stretch of the imagination is he going to be the key to winning the game by himself."
True, but his presence on the field would remove some of the focus that has been on Oakland's running game in general, Michael Bush in particular, the past three games. After averaging 4.8 yards per carry in his first four games replacing Darren McFadden, Bush is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry the last three weeks.
Having the dynamic Moore on the outside, even as a decoy, would force the Lions defense to stay honest.
"It's going to open up the offense a whole bunch," Moore said following Friday's practice. "We still need folks that's going to help open up the running game…just help them get the safeties out of there, make sure that we get our blocking schemes right. It's just helping (to) add more weapons, basically."
Moore, the Raiders' fifth-round draft choice out of Tennessee, has caught 24 passes for 410 yards with a team-best four touchdown catches.
He had huge games at Buffalo (five receptions for 146 yards, including a TD) and San Diego (five catches for 123 yards and two TDs), with two different quarterbacks in Jason Campbell and Carson Palmer.
"I think anytime you add a player of tremendous talent at any position, it gives you more options in what you can do," said Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders. "Certainly he's a very skilled young man. He's made some great plays for us. To have him back in the lineup gives you an added tool, hopefully to play at a more successful level.
"He's a special young man, and we're real glad to have him back, that's for sure."
Yeah, no pressure. Right?
Still, on-field pressure has not gotten to Moore much this season, if at all.
If anything, being sidelined since being tackled awkwardly on a punt return at Minnesota some four weeks ago has taken a toll.
Which is why he probably will not return punts against the Lions on Sunday.
"He wasn't back there today," Jackson said. "And we've got to ease him back into this, but he looked like he's back up and rolling. So potentially, he could be back there at some point in time, but right now, I haven’t, we haven’t, myself and (special teams coordinator) John Fassel haven't made that decision to stick him back there."
Moore is averaging 9.3 yards on 23 punt returns, with a long of 34 yards.
"It's something where we think punt return is more side-to-side, more jukes, and so they're just going to leave that alone for a while," Moore said. "Or for at least this week, and let it get by and let it heal up all the way…and then we're going to see where we're going to go from there."
For now, though, just appearing on the field will be boost enough.
"DeMo's a playmaker, and anytime you have a playmaker who comes back from being injured it's always an a.sset," said running back Rock Cartwright. "So we're looking for him to get out there, get back in rhythm and make plays like he did when he was out there early on.
"With DeMo being back, I think that would give us an opportunity to do a little more on the offensive side of the ball."
Of course, Moore has to be physically up to the challenge. Because if he feels that something is not right on Sunday during pregame warmups, he will not play. And if he does, he might be limited, gauging from what he did in practice this week.
"It's just from little short straight routes and just little short individual routes," Moore said, "and just working on getting more plays and actually putting more plays in as the day goes on and each practice."
And his annoyance mounted over his foot's refusal to cooperate the past month.
"It's been real frustrating sitting there watching your players out there busting their butts, and then you're not able to do nothing yourself," Moore said. "You just want to help, just hurry up and get back out there on the field."
Moore and the Raiders anticipate it happening this weekend.