ALAMEDA -- Chances are Andre Carter will get a chance to upgrade the Raiders pass rush Sunday, but he doesn't look at it as if he's a mercenary hired to take out Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Rather, Carter sees his contribution as blending in with the group and generating pressure through interaction with his teammates on the defensive line.
"It's definitely about winning your matchup, but at the same time we have to figure out a way to work together,'' Carter said. "We're communicating a lot more, we have to make sure we're in synch and just go.
"You need to know where the quarterback is going to be. Is he 7 yards deep? Nine yards deep? Is he a pocket passer? Good defensive linemen that know how to pass rush, that's what they study.''
It was Carter's cerebral approach, as well as 76 career sacks, that appealed to a Raiders team looking to bolster a pass rush which has just three sacks in four games. General manager Reggie McKenzie has bypassed other 30-something unrestricted free agents.
With Carter, and the influence he could have both in terms of skill and knowledge, the Raiders were willing to make an exception.
Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said Carter helps in two ways -- having someone to compete with sharpens the group, and his depth of knowledge in terms of pass rush techniques can be relayed to teammates.
Ryan, the NFL's second-ranked passer, threw 52 times in last Sunday's 24-17 win against the Washington Redskins and was sacked only once. Seven of the 12 sacks against Ryan came the previous week in a 30-28 win against the Carolina Panthers.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said he expects Carter to be active and be part of the defensive line rotation. Carter spent some time working with the first team during drills and said after practice he has worked on both sides.
Wednesday, Carter had his first padded practice since last season, when he had 10 sacks for the New England Patriots before a torn quadriceps in Week 15ended his season.
"I felt like a new kid in school,'' Carter said. "It's all great. I felt like I haven't lost a step.''
Heyward-Bey has earned rave practice reviews and the hope is he'll show no ill effects from the blow from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ryan Mundy which knocked him unconscious.
"That's a tough deal any player's got to go through when you take a big hit like that, but he's taken a couple of hits in practice this week and he's bounced right back,'' offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said. "I'm feeling confident he'll be fine.''
Heyward-Bey conceded getting jostled in practice is different than what he'll face against the Atlanta secondary, but is confident he'll be fine.
"I'm not really worried about it,'' Heyward-Bey said. "Everybody who plays football wants to get that first hit in, and you go from there. When it happens, it happens, and you move on to the next play.''
Cornerback Shawntae Spencer (foot), tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) and tight end Richard Gordon (hamstring) were officially ruled out and there is no timetable for their return.