Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Chiefs-Raiders matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m., at Oakland Coliseum.
Chiefs Tamba Hali vs. Raiders LT Jared Veldheer
Tale of the tape:
Hali (91): 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, eighth season, Penn State
Veldheer (68): 6-foot-8, 321 pounds, fourth season, Hillsdale
Tambi Hali won’t be getting a Christmas present from Raider Nation. The Chiefs outside linebacker has been wrecking shop most of his professional life, owning the Raiders in most every matchup.
Hali, one of the NFL’s most underrated rushers, has 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception this season. With Justin Houston out with injury, the onus falls on Hali to keep the Chiefs pass rushing strong.
“He’s having a Pro Bowl year; he has a lot of sacks,” Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin said. “He’s a guy that goes each and every play. I know Tamba personally from seeing him around at Penn State so I know how hard he works. We’re definitely going to have to be aware of where he is but that whole defense is good so we’ll have to be on our toes throughout the whole game.”
Hali had two sacks and three quarterback hurries last time against Kansas City and remains the team’s top pass rusher heading into Sunday’s home game against the Raiders.
Last time, Jared Veldheer wasn’t available. On Sunday afternoon, he will be. The left tackle missed most of the season recovering from surgery on his partially torn triceps, but activated two weeks ago off injured reserve with a designation to return.
He knocked off some rust against the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets and is back to his usual, dominant self. That’s a good thing for the Raiders, who’ll need him to keep Hali in check without much assistance. Veldheer has fared well against Hali in the past, and understands he must do so again to give quarterback Matt McGloin a chance to throw the football.
“He’s a great player and a relentless guy,” Veldheer said. “It’s always a big challenge going up against him, and preparing for a guy like Hali is fun. It’s going to be difficult, but I’m excited about it. I know I’m going to be ready.”