Football

NFL notes: Raiders not missing a stride with Bush at running back

Oakland Raiders running back Michael Bush (29) pulled free from an attempted tackle by San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle (32) as Paul Oliver (27) gave chase in their Nov. 10 game.
Oakland Raiders running back Michael Bush (29) pulled free from an attempted tackle by San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle (32) as Paul Oliver (27) gave chase in their Nov. 10 game. AP

When the Oakland Raiders lost Darren McFadden and his breakaway speed to a foot injury, it didn't exactly slow down their offense.

That's because they have a more-than-capable backup in the bruising Michael Bush. While Bush may be more apt to run over defenders that sprint by them, he has been almost as effective as McFadden and is a big reason the Raiders (5-4) are in first place in the AFC West.

"That guy is talented enough to be a starting back anywhere in the league," offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski said. "He just happens to be playing with one of the best backs in the league and he's a second back. But we have a lot of confidence in him and we have no reason to change our game plan. With Darren out, we feel like we can still run the ball."

McFadden sprained his right foot in the first quarter against Kansas City on Oct. 23. He has not practiced since then but did make it out to the field to watch practice for the first time since the injury Wednesday.

Bush, who played college football at Louisville, got off to a slow start this season as he got limited chances with McFadden off to such a strong start. Bush had 43 carries in Oakland's first six games for just 138 yards and a 3.2 average per carry.

But as soon as McFadden sprained his foot in the first quarter against the Chiefs, Bush stepped up his game. He has 66 carries the past three games for 352 yards and a 5.3 average. He has also made a big contribution in the passing game with seven catches for 130 yards and a touchdown.

"It's cool getting the ball but it's what I'm supposed to do," Bush said. "Running the ball, like I told the coach, 'Just feed the stud.' I told him that last week. Give me the ball and let's see what we can do."

Gregg has Parkinson's

Forrest Gregg, who earned the nickname "Iron Man" for playing in a then-record 188 consecutive NFL games during his Hall of Fame career, tells The Associated Press he's been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Although the cause of the debilitating neurological disorder is unknown, Gregg, 78, his family and his neurologist say his disease may be related to numerous concussions he suffered during his playing career in the 1950s at SMU and from 1956-71 with the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys.

Jets' Ryan respects Tebow

When John Elway returned to the Denver Broncos as chief of football operations last winter, he proclaimed that Tim Tebow had to become a pocket passer to succeed in the NFL. John Fox said the same thing when he was hired as coach.

A 45-10 drubbing at the hands of the Detroit Lions last month changed that line of thinking. So, the Broncos decided to quit trying to turn Tebow into a prototypical pro passer and instead modified their offense to fit Tebow's unique skill set.

They all but dusted off the Dead Sea Scrolls in bringing back the option to the NFL, a style that made Tebow the best combination quarterback in NCAA history while at Florida.

In back-to-back wins at Oakland and Kansas City, Tebow operated an offense that ran the ball 93 times and threw it 30. The Broncos gained 543 yards on the ground and 182 through the air.

Tebow completed just two passes against the Chiefs, but one was a 56-yard strike to Eric Decker for the winning score as the Broncos (4-5) climbed within a game of the Raiders in the AFC West.

"This week is going to be about stopping the run," said Rex Ryan, whose New York Jets (5-4) visit Denver for a Thursday night game just four days after an emotional loss to New England.

Ryan's extensive college coaching résumé early in his career gives him lots of experience in defending the option, as does his time with Brad Smith operating the wildcat for the Jets. So he tapped into that know-how during the short workweek.

"I guess it might not be as pretty as some of these other guys standing back there, but (Tebow) gives you so much more," Ryan said. "He's a guy that can run, he's a guy that improvises and you know you have to stay in your coverage similar to (Ben) Roethlisberger, but he'll even take off with it more."

Around the league

Bills: Stevie Johnson missed practice Wednesday because of a sore left shoulder, leaving Buffalo's top receiver's status uncertain for the team's game at Miami this weekend.

Though saying the treatment he's received is helping, the ex-UK star added he's not sure if it'll be enough for him to be ready on Sunday.

"Right now, I don't feel 100 percent confident in my shoulder," Johnson said before practice. "It's feeling better already. We'll just see what happens when game day comes."

Coach Chan Gailey said he hopes Johnson will return to practice and work out on a limited basis at least by Thursday.

Chiefs: Quarterback Matt Cassel has had surgery on his injured throwing hand and Coach Todd Haley still hopes that he will be back this season. Cassel hurt his right hand in Sunday's 17-10 loss to Denver. The former Pro Bowl quarterback had surgery Monday evening to repair what Haley called a "significant" injury.

Cardinals: Quarterback Kevin Kolb practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday, testing his injured right foot with some football moves for the first time since he was hurt three games ago.

"It's getting better obviously," he said. "Today I took some individual work and started dropping on it a little bit. That's a big step for me."

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