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Raiders: 3 areas of concern after the bye week

The Raiders are 5-2 at the bye week, a record that puts them atop the AFC standings and sets them up for an interesting stretch run to their season.

On Friday we pointed out three things that were going well for them. Now we take a look at three problem areas.

1 — Offensive line

Going all the way back to last March, the Raiders understood there would be a learning curve with their newly constructed offensive line.

By trading center Rodney Hudson and guard Gabe Jackson, a pair of veteran mainstays, they knew the new group would need time to develop. Trading them was not a football decision, but rather a salary cap move. It freed up the money to add defensive difference-makers like Yannick Ngakoue, Casey Hayward and others.

It also didn’t help that left guard Richie Incognito has not played a down this season because of a quad injury, and right guard Denzelle Good was lost for the season to a knee injury in the first half of the season opener.

Those injuries have stunted the growth of new center Andre James and forced a move of rookie Alex Leatherwood from right tackle to right guard, with veteran Brandon Parker replacing Leatherwood at right tackle.

The new-look group has played better the last two weeks, with the run game getting untracked a bit and Derek Carr having more time to throw downfield. They have to keep it up, though, rather than revert to the sloppy play they produced over the first five games of the season.

2 — The run game

The Raiders rank 28th in the NFL with an average of just 85.4 rushing yards per game, and their 3.5 yards per carry is second-worst in the NFL. That is clearly not what the Raiders had in mind with an offense that is predicated on playing smashmouth football, and certainly not after adding Kenyan Drake in the offseason as a complement to starter Josh Jacobs.

Neither Jacobs nor Drake is averaging four or more yards per carry, and that is problematic.

On the other hand, the manner in which each player was being used was also a bit curious. Neither seemed to be getting the ball in ways that played to their strengths.

The sudden resignation of Jon Gruden seems to have changed that. Over the last two weeks, Drake has produced 105 yards and a healthy 5.5 yards per carry average on his 18 touches. Jacobs has produced 82 yards on 22 carries. Both are being used on screens and pass routes, which helps free them.

But the run game itself still has to get better, obviously, but it seems to be moving in the right direction.

3 — Injuries

In addition to the injuries to Incognito and Good on the offensive line, Jacobs has missed time with ankle and toe injuries and was knocked out of the Eagles game with what interim head coach Rich Bisaccia described as a chest injury. For the third straight year, Jacobs has not been able to remain healthy.

Darren Waller also missed the Philadelphia Eagles game last week with an ankle injury, and cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen (foot) and Damon Arnette (groin) have been on the injured reserve list since Week 5.

Mullen and Arnette join starting linebacker Nicholas Morrow (ankle), reserve linebacker Javin White (knee), valuable safety backup Roderic Teamer (shoulder), tight ends Derrick Carrier (pectoral) and Nick Bowers (neck), Incognito and Good on a crowded I.R.

Carrier and Good are down for the season, and it might be a while before Arnette, Mullen, Morrow and White get back.

For now, the Raiders have been successful despite the injuries. But they continue to add up.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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