For the time being, the job of starting center is Jared Veldheer’s. While Samson Satele recovers from an ankle injury, the rookie from the tiny college of Hillsdale will get the nod to run with the first team.
Tom Cable needed a new center, so he went to Jared.
Perhaps just a temporary move, the decision speaks volumes to the confidence the team has in the converted left tackle. So much so that Veldheer has leapfrogged veteran center Chris Morris for the job.
Veldheer’s transition from small college ball to the pros was a legitimate concern when the Raiders drafted him in the third round. Coach Cable has seen his rookie lineman transition into the pros with the confidence of a vet.
“The first thing you look for in a small school guy is is he kind of fearful of the competition. That’s never once been the case on any day throughout camp has he had that kind of issue. I don’t think there’s a worry like that of any kind with him.”
While Satele is still the favorite to retain his job when healthy, Veldheer does have a leg up in certain areas.
Satele’s strength has been a weakness in the middle of the line. In fact, most believe that Bill Parcells was all too eager to ship the Hawaiian center off to Oakland last offseason due to his inability to out muscle the dominant nose tackles in the AFC East. In the fist two preseason games in 2010, Satele has been beaten in one-on-one situations on several occasions leading to QB sacks and pressure coming right up the middle on Jason Campbell.
Ironically, Veldheer’s size is a plus in the strength department but has been seen as a hindrance when it comes to playing center in the pros. At 6’8”, Veldheer would be the tallest starting center in the NFL. Usually, you’d prefer your center to have a lower center of gravity but Veldheer is slowly proving that size is only a number.
With plenty of other position battles heating up in camp, the job for starting center could very well rise to the top if Veldheer performs well enough against the 49ers this weekend.