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BAGSHOT, England – With everyone trying to pretend this is just a normal week of practice, perhaps the best plan of action for the Oakland Raiders is to embrace the abnormality of being in London, and hope something positive happens.
The Raiders opened the season with three straight losses, including a 16-9 setback against the New England Patriots last weekend. Their next chance for a win will come against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in the NFL's first of three regular-season games in the British capital.
The Raiders were first to arrive in England, touching down at Gatwick Airport on Monday.
"It's crazy," said Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, a rookie who has started all three games of his professional career. "I texted my wife this morning and she was still on Tuesday. I was texting her goodnight and she said good morning. It was weird.
"As the days have gone, it's gotten progressively better. The faster I can get into the right time zone, which is here, the better it will feel."
The Dolphins (1-2) chose to delay their arrival until Friday, giving the Raiders more time to get acclimated to the time difference and get their sleep patterns in order.
But they need to improve on the field, a direction they seem to be going after Sunday's close loss to the Patriots.
"I think we played better," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Wednesday at the team's training base south of London. "Ultimately, there are still a few plays in the game that we need to be able to come up with and need to be able to make that puts us over the hump and gives us an opportunity to win games. It certainly gives us something to build off of."
The Raiders opened with a 19-14 loss at the New York Jets and then lost at home to the Houston Texans, 30-14. And despite scoring only nine points against the Patriots, Carr played pretty well, going 21 of 34 for 174 yards.
Unfortunately for the rookie quarterback, his final pass was deflected by intended receiver Denarius Moore and intercepted by 325-pound defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, allowing New England to run out the clock.
"Vince Wilfork is one of the luckiest defensive tackles I have ever seen. He makes plays like that all the time," Raiders defensive lineman Antonio Smith said with a laugh, and then spun things to look on the bright side.
"The good thing to take out of it is that when we play a game like we're supposed to play it and with confidence and having fun and enjoying with passion, then we can compete against any team," Smith said. "I'm looking forward to passing that on this week into a win. Not just a, 'We did good but we lost.' We want a win this week."
Both teams will have a bye week after Sunday's game.
Several players and the coach were asked about the recent domestic abuse issues in the NFL, mainly revolving around commissioner Roger Goodell's handling of the Ray Rice incident.
"I don't think it's just an NFL issue. I think it's a societal issue," Allen said. "That's something that as a society we need to address. The National Football League can be at the forefront of that. I think the National Football League really can shape a lot of the values in our society and I think that's what the commissioner is trying to do, and I think that's what the National Football League is trying to do."
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