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BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots head West for a matchup with the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
While the Patriots have not seen the Raiders since 2008, they should be fairly familiar with a few of Oakland’s players.
Here are two Raiders that will keep the Patriots on their toes Sunday afternoon.
Richard Seymour vs. Patriots Offensive Line
The Patriots traded Seymour to the Raiders just over two years ago, getting a first-round draft pick in return (that pick turned into offensive lineman Nate Solder). Seymour immediately stepped in and made a difference in Oakland. The All-Pro lineman brought leadership to what was one of the worst teams in the NFL, and turned their defense around.
“He’s been tremendous to our staff because he is a leader of men and he understands what it takes to get this job done week-in-and-week-out, so he has been unbelievable for the organization,” said Raiders coach Hue Jackson.
“I think he is one of the best defensive tackles ever. I’m not just saying that because I’m his coach. I’ve competed against him when he was at the Patriots on other teams I’ve been on. This guy is as good as there is in football,” said Jackson.
In 32 games with the Raiders, Seymour has 105 tackles and 12 sacks. He already has 2.5 sacks this season.
Now, the Patriots offensive line has to do something they were used to in practice when Seymour was still in town. Guard Logan Mankins will have the honors of keeping Seymour away from Tom Brady, who knows Seymour is still among the NFL elite.
“He is still playing well, so we know the challenge it is like to block him up front,” said Brady. “We’ve had to do it in practice for a lot of years. Nobody knows him better than Logan [Mankins], [Dan] Koppen, and [Matt] Light. Those guys who have been in there facing him. Richard is tough to block and he still looks tough to block. There’s not much changed with him – he’s a load and when he gets going he is tough to slow down.”
“He’s always been the guy playing to the whistle, and is very physical in everything he does,” said tackle Matt Light, who will be helping Mankins on Sunday. “I think he brings a lot of veteran leadership to that group. He’s a smart player, I’m sure he’s one of those guys that keeps everyone in line and lines them up.”
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“He’s a good football player,” said Patriots offensive lineman Brian Waters, who used to play Seymour twice a year when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. “Had he played in (Oakland’s) 4-3 system earlier in his career we would probably be talking about to him in a much higher respect as one of the best tackles in the game. Over the last few years, he’s been one of the hardest tackles to go against.”
“Whether it’s playing on the end or three-technique, wherever they put him he’ll be all over the field,” said Light. “He’s got multiple moves, plays to his strength. He’s very disruptive, especially when you run games with him.”
For Seymour, he knows he is in for a pretty good battle against his former teammates.
“I think that’s what football is all about: a good offensive line going against a good defensive line,” said the six-time Pro Bowler. “They have good players and we have good players and the team that plays the best on Sunday is going to win. It’s pretty simple in my mind.”
Keeping #92 away from Tom Brady will be key for the Patriots if they want to take away a win in Oakland.
Darren McFadden vs. Pats Run Defense
After trying to slow down Buffalo’s Fred Jackson, and not doing that great a job with it, things do not get any easier against the Raiders and Darren McFadden.
The fourth-year back has rushed for 393 yards on 61 carries this season, including 171 yards and two touchdowns against the Jets last week. At 6-2, 210 lbs, it will take a lot to bring the talented rusher down come Sunday.
“He’s a tough back. He’s a guy that can go anywhere on the field and has the speed that can take it anywhere to the house,” said corner Devin McCourty, who will have to help out with McFadden. “It’ll be a challenge for the defense just to come prepared and to tackle (him).”
“He’s fast, he’s elusive and he’s a playmaker,” said defensive end Andre Carter. “He’s one of those offensive weapons you have to be alert for; you have to be aware where he is in position. You have to gang tackle him, and constantly gang tackle him and be consistent. Because if you’re not, from the previous games we’ve watched he can make plays and be very effective.”
McFadden has big-play potential, breaking off runs of 70-yards and 47-yards this season. One Patriot that has played against McFadden in the past is linebacker Jerod Mayo, who faced the former Arkansas Razorback when he was at Tennessee.
“He’s a big guy and he’s fast. [He] has a great stiff arm and he can catch the ball out of the backfield – very explosive player. I have a little bit of a history with him. Good player and it will be a challenge for us.”
Mayo stressed to his teammates throughout the week that it will take a full defensive effort on a guy like McFadden.
“It’s all about rallying to the football when a guy like McFadden has the ball. Like I said, he poses a great threat every time he touches the ball,” said Mayo.
The Patriots gave up a 38-yard catch and run to Fred Jackson that set up Buffalo’s game-winning field goal. While McFadden is not the receiving threat Jackson is, the Patriots will need to be aware of him on the field at all times on Sunday or they could get burned on another big play.
Tune in to the Patriots-Raiders game Sunday at 4:15 pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Tune in to Patriots Gameday at 11:30am on WBZ-TV and The Sports Hub’s pregame coverage, beginning at 1:00 pm. After the game tune in to the Postgame show on 98.5, and to Patriots Fifth Quarter on TV38.