He was supposed to be the anchor of the offensive line. Then, all the promise Mario Henderson showed at the end of 2008 disappeared in 2009. One year later, Henderson was officially out as rookie Jared Veldheer took his job at left tackle.
Veldheer’s steady improvement might not impress Dwight Freeney but it has certainly merited high praise by recent Raider standards. The left tackle position has been a house of pain since Robert Gallery failed to live up to expectations. While Gallery has become a dominant guard, his inability to lock down the line helped to bring the rebuilding process to a crawl.
With the Raiders out of 10 loss hell for the first time in seven years, the rebuild in now in high gear and the offensive line is again becoming a strength. Despite being on the outside looking in, Henderson has been ready to play when his number is called and could now be getting a shot at redemption at a new position.
After Langston Walker suffered a concussion last Sunday against Denver, Henderson filled in at right tackle and could get the start against Indy. Super Mario had never played on the right side in his career. Funny thing is this could be the move that saves his career.
Give Walker props. The prodigal son retuned to Oakland as a mere insurance policy one year ago and has been a solid starter one year later. Walker has done whatever the staff has asked including playing both tackle positions and guard over the course of the last two seasons. However, he is not the long term solution. The veteran is by far the best option the Raiders have had on the right side in years. Let’s not revisit the Cornell Green error.
Fact of the matter is Henderson is still a superior athlete with plenty of potential. Perhaps that potential can be reached by switching to the right. Should Henderson get the go on Sunday he’ll again be in a position to prove himself late in the year. Something he’s done before and something he’s poised to do again.