While the Oakland Raiders are coming off a 55-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints interim coach Joe Vitt is making sure a different set of numbers is on the minds of his players this week.
Vitt pointed out that since 2005, teams that give up 55 points (it’s actually 50) in a road loss and play at home the next week, as they will Sunday against the Saints, have a 5-1 record.
“History tells us when a team is beaten and 55 points go on the board, they come home and play the next week,” Vitt said. “They end up (averaging) four sacks, forcing three turnovers and allowing 20 points.
“Offensively, they score 26 points and they rush the ball for 146 yards. That’s what history tells us.”
In other words, Vitt warned the Saints to not sleep on the Raiders.
Of the teams that gave up 50 points on the road and won the next week at home, the Detroit Lions did it twice in 2007 — beating Chicago (37-27) and Kansas City (25-20) after falling to Philadelphia (56-21) and San Diego (51-14), respectively.
The Saints got some good news Thursday when running back Darren Sproles, who was limited in Wednesday’s practice, had full participation for the first time since having surgery on his fractured left hand two weeks ago.
If he has no setbacks in Friday’s practice, Sproles could play Sunday.
Special teams coordinator Greg McMahon said while they would love to see Sproles back returning punts and kickoffs, the decision won’t be made until Friday or Saturday.
“I don’t know yet,” McMahon said. “As the week plays out, I think we’ll figure that out.”
Vitt said T Zach Strief (groin), CB Corey White (knee) and DE Junior Galette (ankle) remained out of practice Thursday, while WR Courtney Roby (shoulder) was full after being limited Wednesday.
For the Raiders, RB Darren McFadden (ankle), DT Richard Seymour (knee/hamstring), SS Tyvon Branch (neck), RB Mike Goodson (ankle) and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) did not practice, but FS Matt Giordano (concussion) worked limited after being out Wednesday.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was named the NFC offensive Player of the Week by the NFL after catching seven passes for a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 31-27 win over the Falcons.
Graham is the first Saints’ tight end to win the honor and the first NFC tight end to claim it since the Falcons’ Alge Crumpler in 2006.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is 10th on the list of vote-getters regardless of position for the 2013 Pro Bowl to be played Jan. 27 in Honolulu.
Brees has 227,106 votes, which puts him third among NFC quarterbacks behind Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (320,307; fourth overall) and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (236,002; ninth). Denver’s Peyton Manning (376,981) is the overall leader.
Voting continues at www.NFL.com/probowl until Dec. 17.
Brees will make his first regular-season visit since 2005 to Oakland’s O.co Coliseum and the Black Hole, where every home game looks like Halloween as fans dress up to try to intimidate opponents.
Brees’ first game there was as a rookie with the San Diego Chargers in 2001 when Doug Flutie was the starter.
Members of the Black Hole were riding the 5-foot-7 Flutie in warmups until he walked over to them.
“When he gets (10 feet away), they go, ‘Hey, Doug. How you doing, man? Good to see you. Hey, I’m such a huge fan. Will you sign this for my daughter?’” Brees said laughing.
“Then, he tells them he has to go warm up and they say, ‘All right Doug, good luck.’ Then he gets five yards away and they say, ‘Flutie, you stink. ... You’re short.’ You just kind of chuckle because that’s part of the whole persona, the aura there.”
“By working him back in the mix here over the past two weeks, it’s been great for him and great for us. Obviously, you’ve seen him make some pretty big runs, some really physical runs … kind of violent and ferocious. We love to see that.” — Brees, on the spark running back Chris Ivory has provided the past two weeks after languishing on the bench early in the season.
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