Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Chargers-Raiders matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m., at O.co Coliseum
Chargers RB Branden Oliver vs. Raiders MLB Miles Burris
Tale of the tape:
Oliver (43): 5-foot-8, 208 pounds, rookie season, Buffalo
Burris (56): 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, third season, San Diego State
[RELATED: Matchup No. 1: Antonio Gates vs. Sio Moore]
The comparisons between Chargers running back Branden Oliver and Darren Sproles are obvious. The rookie is roughly the same size. He wears the same number.
After last week, he showed he can be just as productive. Oliver had 182 total yards and two touchdowns last week against the New York Jets. He had 114 yards on 19 carries and four receptions for 68 yards in a breakout performance.
It prompted tight end Antonio Gates to say, “He’s Sproles, with a little more power.”
Ryan Mathews and Donald Brown have been ruled out of Sunday’s game, ensuring the Raiders will see a heavy dose of Oliver.
That spells trouble for a Raiders defense ranked No. 31 against the run. They’ve had trouble stopping rushers of all sizes, especially when offenses spread out.
Now that Nick Roach has been placed on injured reserve with concussion-like symptoms, Miles Burris will again be in charge of coordinating an effort to so Oliver down. He’s had to adjust to new responsibilities after playing outside during his professional career.
“It’s really a different job for Miles,” Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “He’s one of the guys that when we look back, as was stated before, and when we thought we had all this depth at linebacker, that we felt really good about because Miles can do a lot of jobs. He can play three positions and you can plug him in any place.
“Now we’ve had to settle him down in there at one position recently, and I think he’s done a really nice job for us that way. He’s responsible for getting us lined up. He wears a lot of hats out there right now, but I think he’s done a good job.”