Programming note: Tony Sparano, Jason Tarver and Greg Olson are scheduled to address the media starting at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon. Watch the live stream right here.
ALAMEDA – Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano showed up for work at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning. That seems a bit excessive, even for a self-proclaimed morning person. Everyone needs more than three hours sleep.
It’s a necessary evil on a short week like this one, when the Raiders have to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.
So was a Monday night practice, where the team imported stadium-quality lights for a walk-through session 25 hours after losing a 13-6 contest to the San Diego Chargers.
They’ll keep a foot on the pedal until kickoff, cramming a full week’s prep into three-plus days.
“There are challenges any time you do this, but every team in the league has to do this at some point, where you’re playing on a short week,” Sparano said. “I’ve done it a bunch of times. The challenges are more in getting the players’ routine down more than anything else. I think we did a good job here today of trying to keep practice at a time when the game is going to be played.
"That was really important for us today, to give them maximum rest between the time that the game ended yesterday and the time we actually took the field.”
The Raiders inserted side sessions about the Kansas City Chiefs into previous game weeks to get a head start, but they won’t simplify the game plan. This is rookie quarterback Derek Carr’s first short week, but he’s ready for the mental rigors that come with it.
"Yes, there is a lot, obviously, for every quarterback to get ready for, especially with a talented defense like Kansas City has,” Carr said. “It just puts more on your plate and you just knock it out with the time that we do have.
"If you only focus on a few things, you are going to miss out on a lot, especially at the quarterback position in this league. You can’t skimp on anything.”
The especially true against a talented Chiefs team, which has won five straight.
“This will be a game – one of the few games right now that we’ve played in, to be quite honest with you – where we’ll be taxed,” Sparano said. “When I say that, I mean sometimes you can go into games and on paper you have an advantage in different areas.
"In this game here, we’re going to have to play well in every phase of the game.”
Quality opposition certainly adds to the challenge, but going overboard won’t compensate for less time.
The Raiders, players and coaches alike, must focus on being physically ready to play a game on short rest.
“We have three nights (to get ready for) one of the best teams in the country,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “As a man, all you can do is prepare your body, prepare your mind and go out there and play your best.”