The Raiders will have a big say in whether Tim Tebow remains the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos beyond this week.
Asked by reporters in Denver whether Tebow would be the starter Sunday in Oakland, Broncos coach John Fox said, "For this week, yes."
The NFL's most polarizing player is coming off a miserable performance in a 45-10 loss to the Detroit Lions, fumbling three times (losing one), absorbing seven sacks, seeing an interception returned 100 yards for a touchdown and completing 18 of 39 passes for 179 yards.
"The young man will bounce back," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said. "He's a winner. That guy might come in here and be 20 of 21. I know how this works. You just never know how this thing goes."
Tebow rallied the Broncos to an 18-15 overtime win over Miami the previous week after struggling for the first 55 minutes of regulation play.
Denver is still attempting to determine whether Tebow's skill set -- the former Heisman Trophy winner is an erratic passer, a bruising runner and a charismatic leader -- can translate into sustained NFL success.
When the Broncos face the Raiders, Tebow will return to the site of his first NFL start and a game that put all those skills on display.
The Raiders won 39-23 on Dec. 19, but Tebow completed 8 of 16 passes for 138 yards and a 33-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd against double coverage in the back of the end zone. On a third-and-24 play in the first half,
He threw another would-be touchdown to fullback Lance Ball, but the ball was dropped in the end zone.
"We won that game, but he made some pretty good throws," cornerback Stanford Routt said. "He's definitely a dual threat. Tackling him is like tackling a running back."
The Raiders had a 75-minute practice Monday after their league-mandated four days off during their bye week, and will begin preparing for the Tebow they saw a year ago as opposed to the one who played poorly against Detroit.
"Yesterday was yesterday," Jackson said. "You can never count this young man out because he is really, really good. You know how this league is. It's week to week. This guy can light it up."
Sheppard was signed late in training camp, played in the preseason finale against Seattle but failed to make the 53-man roster. He tried out with the 49ers in October. Sheppard made Pro Bowls in 2004 and 2006 as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
He spent 2009 with the New York Jets and last season in Minnesota.
"I've been preparing as if it could happen at any time," Sheppard said. "That's a good thing, but you can never simulate actually being out there and playing."
Cornerback Chris Johnson (groin, hamstring) remains unable to practice, and rookie cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring) also has been slow to heal.
Houshmandzadeh played in Cincinnati when Jackson was wide receivers coach and was one of the NFL's most productive receivers. He played 2009 in Seattle, which let him go after a 79-catch, 911-yard season. He caught 30 passes for 398 yards last season with Baltimore.
During the offseason, Houshmandzadeh worked out with Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer.
"I did not coach him in Seattle, I did not coach him in Baltimore. It's been awhile," Jackson said. "He was a very accountable, reliable player who I enjoyed being around."
"I thought he looked really sharp today," Jackson said. "He really has a grasp of what we're trying to accomplish. I think what those guys did on those two days really showed out here."
Wide receiver Jacoby Ford said: "Being there those extra days with him, you kind of get things down. Now he knows where we're going to be, and we know what we have to do for him."
Tight end Kevin Boss (concussion) was wearing a helmet and was back on the field.