ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders received a big boost for their offense entering their must-win season finale when big-play receiver Jacoby Ford practiced for the first time in more than a month.
Ford participated Wednesday on a limited basis for the first time since spraining his left foot Nov. 10 at San Diego, a positive sign heading into this crucial week for the Raiders (8-7). They need to beat the Chargers (7-8) on Sunday to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2002.
"It was a good start for him," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said. "He had a chance to do some things today, move around. I think that's a start. We'll just keep going through the week and see where he is tomorrow and keep going forward."
After a strong rookie season, Ford has played only sparingly this season because of injuries. He has played just seven games, leaving the opener with a hamstring injury and the first game against the Chargers with a foot injury in the first quarter.
Ford has caught 17 passes for 260 yards and one touchdown this season and also has returned a kick for another score -- his fourth in two seasons. His latest injury came on a 41-yard catch in the first game against the Chargers.
"He wants to play," Jackson said. "But again, I got to do what's best for this football team. We've got a huge game. I think we all understand that. The most important thing is to put him in the best situation and put our team in the best situation to win a game."
Ford wasn't the only key player to return to practice Wednesday. Safety Michael Huff also was back after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury. Running back Darren McFadden remains sidelined by an injured right foot that he hurt Oct. 23.
The Raiders can win the AFC West by beating the Chargers and having the Denver Broncos lose at home to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders can claim a wild-card berth with a win, a Cincinnati Bengals loss and either a Tennessee Titans loss or a New York Jets win.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press