Raiders starting left tackle Kolton Miller was back on the practice field Thursday, raising the possibility he could return to action Sunday.
While Miller was listed as a limited participant due to his shoulder injury, it was a good sign after he missed his team’s 16-12 win against the New York Jets on Sunday and sat out Wednesday’s practice.
“I feel better than yesterday,” Miller said.
Miller came out of the Raiders’ 30-6 win over the Giants on Nov. 5 with the injury and did not practice last week. Interim coach Antonio Pierce said he thought Miller was close to being able to suit up, which is why Miller was listed as doubtful as opposed to out against the Jets.
In the end, Miller missed just the fourth game of his career. Jermaine Eluemunor switched from right tackle to left tackle, and Thayer Munford started at right tackle as the Raiders surpassed 100 rushing yards as a team for the first time this season.
Miller was proud of the effort despite being relegated to a spectator and mentor.
“I’m not out a lot, and I try to do the best I can to do extra work to be available,” he said. “It’s tough, but it was exciting to see the energy and juice and watch the guys accomplish what we wanted to accomplish. Obviously, it’s not easy, but it’s part of the process.”
Miller is working hard to get back on the field, but he’s not about to make any predictions ahead of Friday’s injury report. That will offer the first clue of his potential availability for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
“I’m just trying to do as much as I can each day,” Miller said.
Miller wasn’t the only player upgraded from non-participant to limited for the Raiders on Thursday.
Linebacker Curtis Bolton was absent with an illness Wednesday, but practiced in full Thursday. Starting left guard Dylan Parham got in a limited session despite a calf injury.
Cornerback Amik Robertson is working his way through the steps of concussion protocol. His upgrade to limited participation Thursday is a sign he has progressed.
Linebacker Divine Deablo (ankle), cornerback Nate Hobbs (ankle) and defensive tackle Adam Butler (knee) were all upgraded to full participation Thursday.
Adjusting for the time
The Raiders planned to spend this practice week in Orlando to get acclimated to the time change and the humidity in Florida before playing the Dolphins.
A late decision to scrap those plans means the team is trying to be creative. Pierce indicated the team is beginning its work day at 6:30 a.m. this week to prepare for a game at what will be 10 a.m. on its body block Sunday.
“Our days start earlier,” Pierce said. “We’re practicing (in the 10 a.m. hour), which is around the time we’ll be playing on Sunday. Forty-eight hours before we play, on Friday, we’ll be on the grass practicing, guys will be up, so hopefully their bodies adjust to the change.
“Other than that, we’re not really even talking about it. Like I told them, it doesn’t matter where the game is played, we’re going to have to go play it. We can use that as an excuse, but we’re not.”
Pierce has won his first two games on the job, though both were at home against struggling teams. The challenge is much different this week as the Raiders head to Miami to face a 6-3 Dolphins team on the road.
He doesn’t want to make the task more difficult than it is by overthinking the situation.
“I’m not being a homer, but when I was with the Giants, we won 11 straight on the road,” he said. “We didn’t even talk about it. We took our show on the road. Certain things travel, good defense and the run game. Just take it with you, pack it up.”
Does he believe the Raiders will be able to bring those aspects of their game to Miami?
“They’re in the suitcase,” he said. “Ready to go.”