ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden said that while running back Josh Jacobs and defensive backs Trayvon Mullen and Lamarcus Joyner might recover from their respective injuries in time to play in the season finale against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, their suiting up would not be based on his team still being alive in the playoff race.
"We're going to play the best players that are available to try to win the game," Gruden said Monday in his weekly media conference. "We don't have enough bodies to rest players. So, we're going to try to win the game in spite of the circumstances."
Jacobs, who has rushed for 1,150 yards despite missing two of Oakland's past three games with a fractured right shoulder, sat out the Raiders' win at the Los Angeles Chargers while Mullen was taken off the field on a stretcher with a neck injury late in the game and Joyner suffered a calf injury in the second half.
For the Raiders (7-8) to gain an unlikely berth into the playoffs as the AFC's No. 6 seed, they have to beat the Broncos in Denver as well as have the Indianapolis Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tennessee Titans lose to the Houston Texans, and the Pittsburgh Steelers lose to the Baltimore Ravens. In addition, the Raiders need a victory from one of four teams -- the New England Patriots (vs. Miami Dolphins), the Chicago Bears (vs. Minnesota Vikings), the Chargers (vs. Kansas City Chiefs) and the Detroit Lions (vs. the Green Bay Packers) -- to gain a strength-of-victory tiebreaker over the Steelers.
Gruden said his staff would not be scoreboard-watching in Denver.
"You can't do that," Gruden said. "You can't control what's going on. We've got a lot of young players playing. We've been saying that from the beginning. We're going to try to use this as an opportunity ... and hopefully we can continue to develop our roster and our team and try to win games. And if we get some help, that will be great. That will be awesome."