NAPA — Jacoby Ford, walking quickly and without a limp, was rejecting interview requests with a quick shake of the head when approached by the Raiders public relations staff after practice.
Ford had missed his second straight day with an undisclosed injury Tuesday. Since it's frowned upon by coach Dennis Allen to discuss injuries, and it's a subject that has dominated the last two seasons of Ford's NFL career, his reluctance was understandable.
At one point, Ford did stop to talk with a Sirius NFL radio crew, expressing the hope he would be back at practice soon, with the Raiders taking Wednesday off and returning to practice Thursday at 2:50 p.m.
Ford was one of the Raiders' most explosive playmakers as a rookie out of Clemson in 2010, but his future will be determined by his ability to practice.
"We need Jacoby out here," Allen said after Ford's first missed practice Monday. "He's missed a lot of time, and he's got to get some work."
Ford, like a high-performance sports car that has spent too much time in the garage, knows he needs the reps.
He stopped to talk after a practice the previous weekend, saying, "You can't just jump right back into it. Regardless of how good you are, you just won't be right back to how you were. You definitely have to get back into football shape and get your football legs back in front of you."
Ford's rookie season included a club record three kickoff returns for touchdowns, 10 rushes for 155 yards and two scores and 25 receptions for 470 yards and two touchdowns.
In a 23-20 overtime win over Kansas City, Ford set up the game-tying field goal by stealing a 29-yard completion from cornerback Brandon Flowers and then set up the game-winning field goal in overtime with a 47-yard reception.
He returned the second-half kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown and finished the game with six catches for 148 yards and four kickoff returns for 156 yards.
In 2011, Ford added a fourth kickoff return for a touchdown but was slowed by a hamstring injury before finally having his season end after eight games because of a foot injury.
Last season, in the second preseason game, Ford reinjured the same foot. Attempts at rehabilitation failed, and he eventually had surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury, never playing a down in 2012.
Teammates, including running back Darren McFadden, attempted to boost his spirits.
"I was definitely down and out for a while," Ford said. "I really didn't want to talk to anybody or be around anybody. When I started getting around my teammates, you'd be amazed how much that helps you with the whole process."
McFadden, whose own Lisfranc injury cost him the last nine games of the 2011 season, knew what Ford was going through.
"I'm a guy who can pretty much relate to that," McFadden said. "I told him you can't concern yourself with things you can't control. Go out and play the game when you're on the field."