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Raiders CB Asomugha misses practice with ankle sprain

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders are hoping a few days of rest will be enough to get Nnamdi Asomugha back on the field.

Asomugha missed practice because of a sprained right ankle Wednesday but Oakland coach Tom Cable is hopeful the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback will be able to play in the Raiders' critical AFC showdown with first-place Kansas City this week.

"He's improving, he is starting to put some weight on it," Cable said. "He and I talked this morning and we'll see where he's at tomorrow and again on Friday. We're trying to take every precaution right now to keep him off his feet."

Asomugha injured himself early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 35-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks when he stepped on the foot of wide receiver Golden Tate. He needed assistance leaving the field and was taken to the locker room but did not return.

That left the Raiders secondary without its two starting cornerbacks. Chris Johnson did not play in the game due to the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered against Denver on Oct. 24.

Johnson was cleared to return earlier this week and practiced with the starting defense Wednesday. Stanford Routt practiced in place of Asomugha while rookie Jeremy Ware, who replaced Asomugha against Seattle, also took reps with the defense.

"It's the same way you go through anything with your starting running back not going to be in or your starting receiver or middle linebacker," Routt said. "You just have to go out and play football. No matter what, the ball will get kicked off on Sunday at 1:15 p.m."

That might be understating things a bit.

Asomugha is widely considered one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL and has been to the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons. Offensive coordinators and opposing quarterbacks routinely scheme their attack away from his side of the field in a nod to Asomugha's skills and reputation.

Asomugha has started all but three games over the past five seasons. The last game he missed was on Dec. 28, 2008, when he sat out the season finale against Tampa Bay after getting poked in the eye the previous week.

Quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski split reps in practice with Oakland's first-team offense. Campbell has started the last two games but Cable has said that Gradkowski -- who sat out the last three games with a shoulder injury -- remains the team's unquestioned starter when healthy.

Though he took snaps with the offense during team drills, Gradkowski is still limited in practice.

"He did good and he's moving forward rapidly now," Cable said. "The question will be kind of what we talked about a few weeks ago, if he can do everything that's necessary to go out and play."

Cable said he will wait until later in the week to make a decision who will start against the Chiefs.

Notes: Cable said the Raiders discussed the possibility of putting in a claim for WR Randy Moss but decided against it. "We looked at everything in terms of what's best for our football team and I just feel like right now we're OK," Cable said. Moss spent two seasons in Oakland before being traded to New England in 2007. ... TE Zach Miller (arch) did not practice and is questionable, though Cable said his condition is improving.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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