Before training camp began I was already preparing for the worst. All it took was one glance at the Raiders roster to know that depth (or lack thereof) was a serious problem that was going to show its ugly face at some point.
Well, here we are nearing the conclusion of camp and sure enough those doubts about depth are coming into focus.
Already the receiving corps is crippled. The defense is dealing with injury issues on the line in the secondary and amongst the linebackers. Even the punting game has been minus Shane Lechler until this week.
But perhaps the most concerning injury of all belongs to Stefen Wisniewski. The New Wiz is dealing with a calf injury that kept him out of action last week and looks likely to do the same again this week.
Now the injury itself isn’t what’s most troubling. The hope is he’ll be back in action in time for the preseason finale. What’s hitting home is that Wisniewski has been unable to participate in the OTAs and is now missing valuable camp practices.
That means he’s out of the loop in learning both a new blocking scheme while re-learning his new/old position.
Having let Samson Satele walk the Raiders turned the center job over to Wisniewski where he played in college at Penn State. Now the position isn’t totally foreign to him in the NFL. Young Wiz did get in a start at center in Satele’s absence last season and managed to see additional action there whenever Satele had to leave the game.
Still, the coaching staff would prefer to have Wisniewski getting as many reps as possible at center and in the new zone blocking scheme instituted by Greg Knapp. So far this preseason the Oakland O-line has been very hit or miss. The zone scheme relies on all members of the line being on the same page and that only comes through practice. And let’s not forget the center is pretty much the QB of the line too.
There’s no real immediate cause for concern but the long term implications could be dire. At this rate a good majority of the first team offense will have to adjust on the fly once the season begins. That could mean for some early season growing pains which could also mean an uphill battle to make the playoffs.