Oakland Raider Training Camp Focus: The Offensive Line
Oakland Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable has been stripped of his play calling duties. He now has enough time to be involved in the development of his offensive line.
The Raiders defense is set to probably crack the top 10 this year. Jason Campbell is a legitimate quarterback brought in to replace Jamarcus Russell.
The Raiders have all kinds of talent at every other offensive skill position as well. So the offensive line is the one unit that could hold the Raiders back from major contention this year.
Therefore, Cable has his work more than cut out for him. His job may very well depend on it.
In previous articles I made suggestions of trades that could make a big difference. But now, it's time to focus on what we have.
Hue Jackson has brought his smash-mouth power-blocking to use along with zone-blocking. Cable will have to find players that fit both schemes because Jackson is the one that will be calling the plays.
This is a look at the offensive line competition in Raider Nation.
Turn the page and let's see.
Left Tackle Khalif Barnes
There are are all kinds of unofficial depth charts out there. Some have Khalif Barnes as the starting right guard. Some have him at right tackle. Then there's one that has him at right guard and back-up left tackle.
A shot at left tackle is what he should get. He was actually a good left tackle at one point. He definitely shouldn't be judged by what he did last year.
Last year, he was brought in to compete with Mario Henderson. That competition never materialized as Barnes broke his leg in camp.
Injuries and bad play forced Barnes back into the line up almost as soon as his cast came off. Barnes had no opportunity to get himself back into any kind of physical or football shape.
The rest was not so pretty history.
The Incumbent Left Tackle Mario Henderson
He was "Not So Super Mario" last year after being Super Mario the year before. He had no injury problems so he has no excuses.
Sure you want to point out that Jamarcus Russell was a quarterback with no footwork. Sure you bought his take on knowing where Jason Campbell is going to be.
But you forgot that two quarterbacks were injured while under his care. I have nothing against Henderson but that scares me.
Would you let the same sitter sit your child if the child was hurt under the sitters care?
That's what I thought. This team can do some real damage this year if Jason Campbell can be kept clean.
That being said, I would really have to see something from Henderson in order to give him his job back.
Perhaps competition will bring it out of him.
Left Guard Robert Gallery
There is no competition here. Robert Gallery is the Oakland Raiders' best offensive lineman. He will make the Pro Bowl real soon if he stays healthy.
That seems to be a question with him.
Center Jared Veldheer
Jared Veldheer has been working at center so far in camp. I wonder how this will shake out.
I have been concerned about Veldheer at left tackle because of his arm length. He also has to show that he can adjust to the speed in the NFL.
Center could very well be a position that he could help the Raiders immediately. He would have excellent size and strength for a center.
That's a good look for the Raiders' power-blocking plays. He is also athletic enough and the former Hillsdale student is definitely cerebral enough.
His only question at center would be his knee bending.
Incumbent Center Samson Satele
Last year, Satele started out on the bench until he could make the the offensive line calls. When he played, he showed why the Dolphins snatched up Jake Grove and traded Satele to the Raiders.
The key to running the ball is getting the nosetackle blocked. That was a task that Satele struggled mightily with. The Raiders went from a top 10 rushing team to 21 after his arrival.
I cannot say that it's all on him because the Raiders were missing Robert Gallery for most of the year. However, his leading the league in backfield penetrations, and lost blocks at the point of attack didn't help.
He sure wasn't part of the solution so he was part of the problem.
He must be part of the reason Veldheer is working at center these days.
Right Guard Bruce Campbell
The man is 6'7, 320 pounds, and runs a 4.78 40. He may be a bit raw to be a left tackle at this time but should help the Raiders and guard.
Darren McFadden would love to be led outside by a man this big and fast. Gallery is fast too so I wonder if they could bring back the counter trey.
They are trying Barnes at right guard and all he does is get confused. Cooper Carlisle doesn't seem to be able to find a fountain of youth to drink from.
Therefore, Campbell just might be the Raiders' guy.
That's if he can make the transition.
Incumbent Guard Cooper Carlisle
Cooper Carlisle has done his thing over his career. He is actually one of the guys that helped get a running game going in Oakland a couple of years ago.
However, father time catches up with everyone and he is no exception. On top of that, I don't see him as a one on one mauler in the power-blocking scheme the the Raiders are mixing in this year.
He will at least provide depth and teach the young guys how to do it.
Khalif Barnes is also in the mix for a starting position here.
Right Tackle Langston Walker
I don't know about prodigal son but Langston Walker has returned. After showing promise early in his career, the former second round pick chased the money to Buffalo.
He actually played well there until he was suddenly released in 2009. He played so well there that they were going to move him to left tackle after the Bills lost Jason Peters.
However, he made one mistake.
What was that mistake?
He asked for more money. What took him to Buffalo brought him from Buffalo.
He played well in relief of the injured Gallery last year. He has since trimmed himself down to 360 pounds. Yes, I said down to 360 pounds.
The 6'8 Walker is a huge man and is an easy fit for the power-blocking plays the Raiders plan to use this year. Walker looks like a typical Raider offensive lineman.
He will probably be backed up by Erik Pears and or Barnes. Maybe the rookies Campbell and Veldheer are in the mix somewhere.
This Unit Is Key
There is enough talent on this team to win 10 games and go to the playoffs. However, this unit will have to pick it up for the Raider to succeed.
As full-contact practices get going, we will see who can do what at this point. I plan to keep you updated.
I hope you enjoyed.