No matter how many workouts Jason Campbell and Richard Seymour organize on their own dime and time there is nothing that can be done to prepare the most important unit in Oakland – the offensive line.
With more question marks than the Riddler’s pajamas, the O-line is in dire need of time. Time to gel as a unit. Time to learn new positions. Time to adjust to the speed of the NFL. Time in front of coaches and not just fellow players.
As it stands there could be a total of four new starters along the offensive line. Rookies Stefen Wisniewski and Joe Barksdale are expected to compete for starting gigs with the New Wiz all but penciled as the starter at center. Second year guard Bruce Campbell saw no PT as a rookie but that hasn’t stopped Al Davis from singing his praises as he too is expected to be running with the first team.
All in all the longer this lockout goes on the worse it gets for the offensive line.
We know all too well that this team is only going to go as far as the men in the trenches will carry the Silver and Black.
While it is an admirable effort made by the players to get together on their own accord to stay as game ready as possible it is still impossible to conduct drills properly without any coaches in the mix. A young offensive line needs an ever watchful eye to give critique and administer expectations.
The good news is that at this time of year there’d be no contact drills anyway. So it stands to reason the incomplete line isn’t missing out on much in the physical aspect. But from a learning and technique refinement perspective this lockout is a nightmare for Oakland’s budding playoff hopes.
Barksdale was drafted as a tackle but could be moved to guard. Stressing the word could because there are no coaches present to provide any guidance for the youngster. He’s just expected to be preparing for a possible position change on his own.
Samson Satele is currently a free agent but could be brought back once a window of free agency opens up. Again that ugly C word appears as there is no way to know what the Raiders are planning to do with the man that has been their center piece for the past two seasons.
Khalif Barnes is reportedly done with the uncertainty of one-year deals and is ready to move on. Mario Henderson is likely on the outs as well. Just who is going to play right tackle?
About the only thing we know for sure is that Robert Gallery won’t be back. John Herrera made that very clear.
Now if this ludicrous lockout is lifted in time for a full training camp then this cause for concern won’t be nearly as pressing. But the longer this lasts the worse it gets for the offensive line. There is no other unit with as much pressure on it as the O-line. The guys up front will be expected to continue dominance in the run game while improving in pass protection despite the fact that it will almost certainly be comprised of new faces.
It’s too early to panic but there is definite cause for concern. Just remember how bad the line looked in the opener in Tennessee last season and that was after a full slate of OTAs and camp. I hate to think what we might see this time around with even less time to prepare.