Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack celebrates after recovering a fumble during a game against the Bills on Dec. 4. (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)
The broken leg suffered by Oakland quarterback Derek Carr forced the Raiders to shake up their offense and thrust backup Matt McGloin into the spotlight as the starter.
Veteran safety Nate Allen said it’s also up to the team’s defense to help pick up the slack — a theme echoed by several of his teammates all week.
“It’s still business as usual,” Allen said. “Even when Derek was in, our belief has been that if the other team doesn’t score, they can’t win. That’s always been our mindset.”
With first-round draft pick Karl Joseph still nursing a nagging toe injury that has hindered him for nearly a month, Allen is likely to make his fourth consecutive start when the Raiders end the regular season Sunday in Denver.
The 14th overall pick in the draft, Joseph returned to practice after sitting out the previous three weeks, but has been limited each of the past two days and is listed as doubtful on the injury report.
Allen, a starter in 2015 before injuries cut his season short, has played well while Joseph has been out. He has 24 tackles in the past three games and had his second interception of the season last week against Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck that helped set up Oakland’s first score.
This week the Raiders play a Broncos team that has already announced its intention to rotate quarterbacks Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian in the regular-season finale. Allen doesn’t think it will cause much of a problem for Oakland’s defense.
“If you do what you do well you’ll be OK,” Allen said. “Lynch is pretty athletic and so is Siemian. They kind of stick to their offense and don’t change much.”
The Raiders can clinch a first-round bye by beating the Broncos. A loss coupled with a Kansas City win over San Diego would drop Oakland to the No. 5 seed.
That the Raiders are in a position to rely on their defense says a great deal considering they’re ranked 30th overall while giving up nearly 377 yards per game. Oakland has made up for its deficiencies by being adept at forcing turnovers. The Raiders lead the NFL with a plus-18 margin and have at least one interception in seven consecutive games.
The Minnesota Vikings have added wide receiver Isaac Fruechte to the active roster for his NFL debut in the season finale against Chicago, after placing safety Andrew Sendejo on injured reserve. With Stefon Diggs (hip) and Laquon Treadwell (ankle) listed as doubtful and Charles Johnson (knee) listed as questionable, Fruechte could see some playing time with the Vikings eliminated from postseason contention. … Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee (shoulder) will miss the game while linebacker Leonard Floyd (concussion) is doubtful and linebacker Willie Young (knee) is questionable. …
The Detroit Lions have put running back Theo Riddick (wrist) on injured reserve and listed offensive tackle Riley Reiff (hip) as questionable for the game against Green Bay. They promoted wide receiver Jace Billingsley from the practice squad. … The Baltimore Ravens have placed linebacker Zachary Orr (neck) on injured reserve and elevated former Navy star Keenan Reynolds from the practice squad. The Ravens also placed cornerback Jimmy Smith (ankle) on injured reserve while offensive tackle Rick Wagner (concussion) will also miss the game against Cincinnati.