ALAMEDA, Calif. – As if playing in the Eastern time zone where they've lost 12 straight games isn't bad enough, the Oakland Raiders could be facing snowy conditions Sunday against the New York Jets.
Rookie quarterback Matt McGloin couldn't be more excited.
McGloin, who will be making his fourth consecutive start for the Raiders, grew up in Scranton, Pa., about two hours away from MetLife Stadium and spent four years at Penn State.
Playing in the cold? That's easy, especially when McGloin is expected to have about 200 family member and friends in the stadium to support him.
"The weather is going to be a nice change for me," McGloin said. "I grew up in the East my whole life so I'm used to playing in the cold weather. I'm used to the grip of the ball, how it feels, how to keep your hands warm and moist. That won't be too much of an adjustment for me."
Getting Oakland's offense back on track after back-to-back losses might be a bit more difficult for the Raiders' undrafted starter.
Running back Darren McFadden has already been ruled out because of an ankle injury, while Rashad Jennings has yet to be cleared after suffering a concussion against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
Oakland will also be minus injured wide receiver Denarius Moore, who leads the team with five touchdown receptions.
Then there's the cross-country trip to New York. The Raiders haven't won in the Eastern time zone since beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 on Dec. 26, 2009 — not long after McGloin arrived at Penn State as a walk-on.
"It's not a statistic we're proud of," McGloin said. "Any time you're traveling across the country to play, it'll be difficult. But for me it's exciting to go back East and play in the cold."
The game will mark the Raiders' second trip to New York in four weeks. They lost to the Giants 24-20 on Nov. 10 when McGloin was still backing up Terrelle Pryor.
McGloin stepped into the starting job the following week and hasn't looked back.
Though Oakland is just 1-2 in his three starts, McGloin has passed for nearly 800 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. His 84.6 passer rating is significantly better than Pryor's mark of 69.0, and McGloin has only been sacked twice.
McGloin has also showed remarkable poise for a rookie quarterback, something Raiders coach Dennis Allen thinks will serve the young quarterback well when he starts in New York in front of family and friends.
"Nothing seems to overwhelm him," Allen said Friday. "Going to the mecca of football in New York, I don't think that's anything that's going to affect him that much. He understands what he's got to do. I've been very impressed with the way that he's handled himself, specifically for an undrafted rookie."
Allen has said the Raiders still want to see what Pryor has to offer as a quarterback. Pryor started the first nine games of the season and had mixed results. He hasn't played since injuring his knee in the loss to the Giants, however, and has kept a low profile in Oakland's locker room as the attention has shifted to McGloin.
McGloin would probably do the same if he could. During a meeting with reporters this week, the 24-year-old wore a Raiders hat that was pulled down low over his forehead, and he sometimes responded in dull, flat tones.
It's not that McGloin is anti-social or uncomfortable in the spotlight. It's part of his nature.
"You just watch him and the way he handles himself, his poise, his composure, he's done everything like a real pro," Allen said. "He'll continue to get better if he continues to attack things the same way."
Notes: Lucas Nix will start at right guard in place of injured Mike Brisiel. Nix started nine games this season at left guard before being replaced last week by Khalif Barnes. ... Safety Tyvon Branch will not play despite returning to practice this week for the first time since breaking his right leg in Week2. S Usama Young (neck) is also out.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org