Raiders training camp outlook: Center

           One story in a series, looking at position breakdowns for the Oakland Raiders, who arrive for training camp in Napa, CA, on July 24. Today – a look at center:

           The Oakland Raiders did not draft a center. That's a sign that Barret Robbins will remain in an Oakland uniform despite his bizarre and, at the time mysterious, disappearance on Super Bowl weekend. Right?

            It's too early to draw any conclusions on the future of Robbins, who was suspended from that game. He has since addressed the media, apologized to his teammates and diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Adam Treu started in place of Robbins in the Super Bowl and through most of the 2001 season when the latter missed all but two games with a season-ending knee injury. Treu remains the starter while Robbins is faced with the task of having to not only earn his starting job back, but also his roster spot.

Treu has proven to be a capable replacement as well as being an invaluable long-snapper. The Raiders can feel confident they have a capable replacement if they decide not to keep Robbins, who is also recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. In addition, Matt Stinchcomb, a guard and/or tackle by trade, has taken reps at the center position during the team's offseason program.

Other than his incident on Super Bowl weekend, Robbins enjoyed a rewarding 2002 season in qualifying for his first Pro Bowl.

The feeling here is that the Raiders are doing the right thing by making Robbins earn his stripes. Simply handing him the job back may send the wrong message even though there is room for empathy regarding his personal issues.

Robbins is one of the most talented centers in the NFL and should regain his starting position as long as he does not have any additional setbacks.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at vdad7@yahoo.com


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