Every year the Raiders’ schedule is set up in such a way to try and have the team playing on a a field that is partially dirt from the A’s games also played on the field. That plan works out so long as the A’s don’t make the playoffs. Well, the A’s did make the playoffs which means it’s another game on the dirt infield.
Many of the players just accept that they will have to deal with the dirt in spots and plan accordingly whether it be to have specific cleats or otherwise. Also most of them played on the dirt in the opener already. One guy has not — the new kicker.
Matt McCrane is an undrafted rookie out of Kansas State. He was just signed this week to replace Mike Nugent who injured his hip in the Raiders game in Miami. He will not only have his NFL debut Sunday, but for any longer kicks, he will be planting on baseball field dirt.
To prepare for it, he spent some time at the coliseum getting a feel for it.
“We took him out there and let him kick, let him experience the dirt,” said Gruden.
It was special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia who put orchestrated the 1 1⁄2 hour session for McCrane on the coliseum field.
“We tried different cleats, different approaches but I’m just going to go with the standard thing that I’ve been using and see what works the best,” said McCrane.
“Just my standard soccer [cleats]. I didn’t do a special plant cleat. I know some kickers choose to do that. I just went with something that I normally go with.”
Gruden seemed to speak a bit of tongue-in-cheek when saying that he thinks “all kickers in the league look forward to kicking off that dirt” adding he’s happy with playing on the dirt and “would make the dirt permanent if [he] had anything to do with it.”
McCrane will also have pre-game Sunday to acclimate to the dirt field. He showed in the preseason with the the Cardinals that he has a strong leg, connecting on field goals from 53 and 54 yards out. We’ll see if that translates to the dirt should he be put the the position to have to do it.
As for the dirt field, this would be the last time the Raiders have to play on it unless the A’s were to make the World Series. After this the Raiders won’t be back in Oakland until October 28 when they face the Colts.