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Moss questionable; Raiders bring back Gabriel

ALAMEDA, Calif. (Dec. 13, 2006) -- The Oakland Raiders brought back receiver Doug Gabriel -- three months after trading him to New England -- as insurance for Randy Moss' ankle injury.

Gabriel had been slated to start in Oakland before being traded to New England for a fifth-round pick just before the beginning of the season. He was cut this week by the Patriots and claimed by the Raiders because Moss is questionable for a Dec. 17 game against St. Louis. Receiver Jerry Porter has also missed the past three games with an injured hip.

Gabriel is expected to join the Raiders on Dec. 14 and could be used against the Rams.

"Doug is insurance for us right now," coach Art Shell said. "So, that's where we are with that. I don't know if we'd have made that move if those guys all were healthy and ready to go."

Gabriel playing sparingly as a backup in his final four games with the Patriots. His season took a drastic downturn in the ninth game after he lost a fumble in a 17-14 loss to the New York Jets. He had 24 catches in the Patriots' first nine games, but only one in the past four.

Moss' ankle injury in a 27-10 loss last week to Cincinnati gave Ronald Curry a chance at sustained playing time for one of the only times this season. Usually used in three-receiver formations, Curry played nearly every down after Moss went out early in the second quarter.

"Pretty much I could count the snaps before last week that I was in," Curry said. "But when you play a lot, you kind of lose track."

Curry responded by catching eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown, the most catches for a Raiders receiver all season. Curry is second on the team with 37 catches for 487 yards. Moss leads in both categories with 42 receptions for 553 yards.

Curry became quarterback Aaron Brooks' No. 1 option in Cincinnati and the two quickly developed a rhythm together.

"A lot of plays were called where I got the ball and just made plays," Curry said. "The plays were there to make and Aaron continued to come to me. I felt like he got into a comfort zone and was able to move around a bit and I was able to get open."

Curry has been waiting for this chance as he worked his way back from two torn Achilles' tendon injuries.

Curry was one of Oakland's top young receivers in 2004 when he started 12 games and set career highs for receptions (50), yardage (679) and touchdowns (six). Before tearing his Achilles' tendon in early December, the former North Carolina quarterback had supplanted Porter as the Raiders' biggest downfield threat.

Curry reinjured the tendon in the second game last season and missed the rest of the year. He arrived in camp in July ready to play, but the Raiders kept him on the physically unable to perform list for most of the preseason.

He has spent most of 2006 as the third receiver, shuttling in and out during passing situations.

"He's playing a role he probably didn't prefer at first," Brooks said. "But he is going about his business. He has no ego problem. He's going out there and just working, working his butt off. You see the results. You get an opportunity and he's going to make the best out of it. That's what he did, so I am extremely proud of him."

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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