Ford returns with much to prove
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NAPA – Jacoby Ford hates missing practice for any reason, yet he can’t seem to avoid the sideline.

The Raiders wide receiver has missed quite a few workouts over two-plus seasons due to injuries of varying severity.

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This week’s ailment wasn’t serious, especially compared to injuries past. Still, a red flag was raised.

Ford said he felt tightness in a tendon behind his left knee on Sunday, and the Raiders took a cautious approach.

The fourth-year pro was pulled from that session and missed four full practices over five days before returning to work on Saturday afternoon. The Raiders limited his reps and he was seen tending to the sore joint after most every play, but Ford was still happy to be back.

“It felt really good to get back out there, just to start getting back in the groove of things,” he said. “We’re just easing back into it, not really hitting it full go yet, but it’s definitely about 90 percent right now.”

Ford has some showing off to do. Any time missed is detrimental for a player too often out, especially when a new offense is being refined, but he hasn’t made much of an impression on sophomore head coach Dennis Allen and his staff.

Ford missed all of 2012 with foot issues, so Allen really hasn't seen him in action.

“He’s missed a lot of time, so it’s important for him to get out here and compete and for us to get a chance to really see what he can do,” Allen said. “We he had him for such a limited time last year and have had him a little bit of a limited time with him this year, so it’ll be good for us to get him out here, let him compete and see what he can do.”

Ford believes he’ll show well in coordinator Greg Olson’s new offense, which offers opportunity for a speedster to haul in deep balls and make big plays out of well-timed short passes.

“The offense is a perfect fit for me,” Ford said. “You can take a screen and take it to the house, or a slant and take that to the house, a hitch, take that to the house. It’s definitely an offense that’s real motivating for me.”

In order to do those things, Ford has to stay healthy. Ford wasn’t able to do so for long – he made it through two training-camp practices before getting hurt – but is glad the injury isn't major.

“At first it was kind of upsetting, because I’m doing everything I can to take care of my body in the right way,” Ford said. “I’m glad to get back to work already. The injury is really minor, so it was nothing for me to panic about. It’s nagging more than anything else, and just a little bit frustrating. But I’m fine now.”