ALAMEDA Raiders coach Dennis Allen made official Friday what seemed certain all along: Running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson and defensive tackle Richard Seymour won't play against the Baltimore Ravens.
Allen held out hope that one or more of the trio would recover sooner than expected. McFadden and Goodson are nursing high-ankle sprains, and Seymour is battling knee and hamstring issues.
"You don't ever know exactly how someone is going to respond to an injury," Allen said in explaining why he waited so long to decide. "Obviously, none of them made enough progress this week that they were able to be up."
Perhaps more importantly, Allen said there's already concern about the status of those players beyond Sunday's game against the Ravens.
"We'll probably be going through the same thing next week," Allen said.
Allen is entrusting the running game to second-year player Taiwan Jones and fullback Marcel Reece.
Also, rookie running back Jeremy Stewart might be signed from the practice squad and added to the 53-man roster, Allen said.
Sunday will be Jones' first true chance to show what he can do in a regular-season game. Until now, he has been the No. 3 back for his first 11/2 NFL seasons.
Jones said he is excited about starting Sunday. Still, he is cognizant of not trying to do too much in McFadden's absence.
"I'm very aware that I'm not Darren McFadden," Jones said. "I just try to play my game. The coaches, they do a good job of putting me in positions and giving me plays for what I can bring to the table."
Jones rushed 16 times for 73 yards (4.6 average) last season. He carried the ball for the first time this season last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and netted two yards on his lone carry.
Reece isn't a true running back, but he is fast enough and big enough to hold his own if called upon.
Notes Willie Smith will remain the starting right offensive tackle for now, Allen said.
"He has continued to work; he has continued to try to improve," Allen said. "Again, we feel he's the guy that gives us the best chance to be successful. So, he's going to continue in that role right now."
Regular right tackle Khalif Barnes hasn't had enough time to get into football shape yet, Allen said, after missing the past seven weeks with a groin injury.
Allen considered Barnes and rookie Tony Bergstrom for the starting spot Sunday before settling upon Smith for the seventh straight game. Smith has struggled lately, prompting Allen to take a long look at Barnes and Bergstrom.
Desmond Bryant will start in place of Seymour on Sunday, Allen said.
Bryant will play one week after he was hospitalized for a fast, irregular heartbeat at halftime of Oakland's game against the Buccaneers.
"He's had absolutely no issues, at least any issues that I'm aware of or that our trainers are aware of," Allen said.
Cornerback Shawntae Spencer also was declared out of Sunday's game, which comes as no surprise, given that he hasn't practiced since he suffered a right foot injury almost two months ago.
Veteran cornerback Ron Bartell likely will be activated today, Allen said, and start Sunday. He will play right cornerback as much as he can in his return from a shoulder injury suffered in the opener.
Michael Huff will play opposite Bartell, with Matt Giordano remaining at Huff's regular free-safety spot.