NFL: Raiders change schedule before East Coast trip
AP Sports Writer
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – After watching the Oakland Raiders get blown out in their first two trips back East this season, coach Tom Cable decided to switch things up this week.
With another early start slated for Sunday at Jacksonville, the Raiders moved up their schedule to get acclimated. Meetings started at 6:25 a.m. – an hour earlier than usual – and practice began about three hours early at 9:45 a.m.
That’s all part of the plan to get the Raiders’ minds and bodies ready for a game Sunday that starts at 10 a.m. Pacific time.
“Just looking at the history of us, just in my time here, we’ve really struggled,” Cable said. “When you look at the records of teams going West to East it’s not very good. The only thing we could come up with was try to get their body clocks on something similar to that. We’re starting the day earlier and ending the day earlier and stressing to them to get more rest at night with the early start.”
Cable has not done this before in his two-plus years as Raiders coach but decided to change up after the Raiders were outscored 73-16 in the losses at Tennessee and Pittsburgh.
In the season opener at Tennessee, the Raiders fell behind 24-3 in the second quarter and never recovered on the way to a 38-13 loss. That was Oakland’s most lopsided defeat of the season until going to Pittsburgh three weeks ago.
The Raiders fell behind 21-3 in the first half that game and lost 35-3, prompting Cable to look at changing up the approach with the crucial trip to Jacksonville this week.
Now the question is if a schedule change will change the fortunes for the Raiders on this trip East.
“We hope so because this is the same schedule it’s going to be on game day,” quarterback Jason Campbell said. “You’ve got to get in bed early, you’ve got to wake up early and get practice going early. You try to get your body used to the different time. Just adjusting, just preparing your mind to play a 10 o’clock game for us. I think it will help us. This is the only way to do it, the only way – the way coach is doing this week is the only way I know how you could do it. So we’ll see.”
This is Campbell’s first season experiencing the travails of traveling from West to East after spending his first five seasons in Washington. He said the difference is notable because East Coast teams are used to playing late afternoon games at home, while West Coast teams only have the early starts when they go on cross-country trips.
“So you get up at five o’clock in the morning instead of having your normal routine which is usually 8 or 9, it’s a big difference,” he said. “This week we have to find a way, take some energy or whatever it is, vitamins. We have to try to block that five o’clock wakeup call out of our heads and get ready to play.”
The Raiders have had some success in recent years on trips back East, beating the Steelers 27-24 last year and ending the 2008 season with a 31-24 win at Tampa Bay.
But since the start of the 2003 season, Oakland is just 5-17 in day games in the Eastern time zone. The Raiders also lost a prime time game in New England to open the 2005 season, although the early start wasn’t a factor.
“We’ll take any advantage we can get,” tight end Zach Miller said. “We haven’t done that well in the past on East Coast trips so we’re just looking to try to get any edge we can.”
Notes: CB Nnamdi Asomugha (sprained ankle) did not practice as a precaution. … WR Chaz Schilens, who made his season debut last week after undergoing knee surgery in the summer, was limited as the Raiders try to ease him back. … MLB Rolando McClain did not practice with a sore foot.