The Oakland Raiders may be missing quarterback Jeff George longer than expected.
Coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday that George has a torn left groin and that it's impossible to predict when he'll return. Two days earlier, the Raiders had described the injury as a strain and held out hope George could play this weekend.
"Jeff does have a muscle tear, it's more severe than we had hoped," Gruden said. "I don't know how long it will linger."
George was knocked out of Sunday's 23-20 victory at Arizona with the groin injury, which happened as he threw a pass late in the first quarter.
"Right now I don't really now. We'll just have to wait and see. I don't know if it's a three-week, four-week or five-week injury," George said. "It's however long it takes to heal. I just have to be patient."
The Raiders (3-2), who have won consecutive games for the first time since December 1996, face San Diego at home this Sunday. Then they have an off week.
"The bye couldn't have come at a better time," George said. "If you can't drop back and you can't scramble, you don't want to put the offense in that situation."
George has not missed a game because of injury since 1992. He missed the last 13 games of the 1996 season after being suspended by the Atlanta Falcons for a sideline tirade against coach June Jones during a nationally televised game.
| Jeff George's torn muscle will keep him out longe than expected. (AP) |
"I've never had anything like this before. I never had a tear like that, but I'll deal with it and rehabilitate as fast as I can," George said. "Especially the way things are going now, you want to be out there."
George's injury means Donald Hollas, who was 12-of-22 for 104 yards in the last three quarters against Arizona, will make his first NFL start since 1992. He will be backed up by 39-year-old Wade Wilson and Pat Barnes, who was activated Wednesday a week after being signed to the practice squad.
Hollas, who until last week's relief assignment at Arizona had taken only three snaps since 1992, does not have nearly as strong an arm as George. But the Raiders say they don't plan to change the offense because of the change in quarterbacks.
"It's the same offense," Hollas said. "Jon (Gruden) will just call different plays for me than for Jeff."
The Raiders have not fared well with backup quarterbacks in recent years. In 1995, Oakland was 8-2 when starter Jeff Hostetler was injured in a home game against Dallas. The Raiders lost that game and the following five to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs.
Oakland also is banged up at running back. Napoleon Kaufman is bothered by a sprained left ankle that Gruden said still was swollen on Wednesday, though Kaufman said he expects to be fine by Sunday.
Kaufman's backup, Harvey Williams, has swelling in his right knee. So Calvin Branch, a defensive back who played running back in college, worked on offense Wednesday and could be used as a running back in an emergency this weekend.
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