EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Chiefs matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (CBS), at the O.co Coliseum
Raiders CB Phillip Adams vs. Chiefs WR Dexter McCluster
Tale of the tape
Adams (28): 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, third season, South Carolina State
McCluster (22): 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, third season, Mississippi
ALAMEDA -- Wait, isn't the diminutive Dexter McCluster more of a hybrd slot receiver/running back than a wideout? And isn't Phillip Adams more of a punt returner than a cornerback?
Injuries being what they are, McCluster is second on the depth chart to the physical specimen that is Dwayne Bowe--out with an injury to the ribs--and Adams has proven himself so valuable at corner that Oakland cut Ron Bartell this week. So here we are, even if Joselio Hanson is the Raiders' nickel defensive back and McCluster primarily lines up in the slot. Sure, Adams might see more of Terrance Cooper or Jon Baldwin, but the if-and-when matchup between Adams and McCluster is the most intriguing.
"I’m excited that I get to compete every day," Adams said this week. "I take great pleasure coming out here to play football. It’s a game we all love. I just plan to keep on competing and being there for my teammates and everybody in the organization."
Adams, with his fourth organization since 2010, has two interceptions for the Raiders, one in each of his last two games. He suffered a concussion on the first one, against Cleveland's Brandon Weeden, and was knocked out of that game. He kept the ball as a keepsake after picking off Denver's Peyton Manning on Dec. 6.
"He competes very well in the pass game," said Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. "He needs to wrap up and tackle with his eyes up a little bit better. That’s where he can improve. But he’s competing in the pass game and continuing to finish. He’s made plays on the ball. Of course he caught one and knocked himself out. We’d prefer if he doesn’t knock himself out, but it was a heck of a catch.
"But he competes in the pass game and that’s the key.”
If and when he faces McCluster, Adams will have lots of competition.
Far from a deep threat, but speedy nonetheless, McCluster has 41 receptions for a career-high 358 yards, and also 11 rushing attempts for 60 yards in 13 games with five starts. In the Raiders' 26-16 victory at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 28, McCluster caught a career-high tying six passes for 54 yards and his lone touchdown of the season.
Adams, meanwhile, may have found a home in Oakland after stops across the Bay as a seventh-round draft choice of the 49ers, in New England and in Seattle. His confidence is growing as well.
"I think I just have more experience (now)," Adams said. "Repetition is the father of learning. If you get enough reps and you get that much experience, you gain that much confidence. I’m starting to gain that much confidence and feel like I can be an impact on my team."