Andre Carter played for the Patriots when he was injured during the second quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos in December 2011. Carter is now a Raider and says he feels great and is ready to go Sunday.  (AP )

The bye week came at the perfect time for defensive end Andre Carter.

After signing with the Raiders as a free agent on Sept. 26 but sitting out that week's game at Denver, Carter had an extra week to prepare for his comeback. He hasn't played in a game since tearing a quadriceps muscle Dec. 18 against Denver last season, his lone season with the Patriots.

"I feel great," Carter said Wednesday. "All it was was an extra week just to get familiar with the scheme, an extra week to study. The bye week came at a great time, as far as my arrival is concerned. I just spent that extra time talking to coaches and having a better feel mentally, and it was all about going out there and executing."

Raiders coach Dennis Allen has yet to say whether Carter will play Sunday at Atlanta, but he practiced in full pads Wednesday, and the Raiders' pass rush, which has produced just three sacks, desperately needs some help.

"It was good," Carter said of the padded practice. "I felt like a new kid in school. It's all great. I felt like I haven't lost a step. Getting accustomed to hitting. It's definitely going to come down to the game as far as tackling, because you can't implement it at practice. You just go. I don't have the preseason, I don't have training camp. You got to know what you're going to do. You got to know your angles and just go ahead and go."

Back on track: Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was a full participant in practice, and Allen he "would fully anticipate" him "being ready to go" against Atlanta.

Heyward-Bey suffered a concussion against Pittsburgh on Sept. 23 when he took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Steelers safety Ryan Mundy in the end zone. Heyward-Bey, who was knocked out on the hit, spent the night in a hospital and missed the Denver game. He returned to practice last week on a limited basis.

Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said Heyward-Bey looked like he hadn't missed a week.

"He caught the ball really well today," Palmer said. "He looked extremely fast -- like he always does. There wasn't one instance in practice or meetings where he seemed a little foggy. That's always the issue. It takes you a little while to kind of come out of a daze, but he's out and he's ready to play."

Extra points: Cornerback Shawntae Spencer (sprained right foot), offensive tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) and tight end Richard Gordon (hamstring) missed practice again. There's been no official word, but Spencer and Barnes are expected to miss their third consecutive start, while Gordon still has a chance to return for Atlanta. If Spencer is out, then regular starting free safety Michael Huff will likely make his third straight start at left cornerback. Willie Smith is in line to start his third straight game for Barnes at right tackle. ... DT Tommy Kelly (foot), DT Richard Seymour (knee) and K Sebastian Janikowski (left groin) were limited in practice.

Follow Raiders reporter Eric Gilmore on Twitter @CBSRaiders.