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 offensive tackle:
The Oakland Raiders are settled at most every position but defensive end is not one of them.
In the Raiders perfect world, they would have a healthy Tony Bryant and Trace Armstrong at each starting defensive end. Both players, however, have their own health issues. Bryant sustained a spinal cord injury against San Francisco in a Week 8 loss. Bryant still has not been cleared to play.
Armstrong is one of the most proficient pass rushers in NFL history but is also 37 and has landed on injured reserve the last two seasons. He still could be a factor in obvious passing situations.
Third-year man DeLawrence Grant started 14 games after suiting up for only two as a rookie and matured into a solid end as the season progressed. There was many times where his performance fit the category of "he didn't make the tackle but he made the play."
The Raiders could even be in a rare position of starting a rookie. That first-year player is Tyler Brayton. The first-round choice from Colorado is a high-energy player who has a chance to start because of his ability, the team's uncertainty at the position and his versatility. Brayton is capable of playing tackle or end.
Third-year man Chris Cooper fits that category as well. Cooper was not as much of a factor as he was as a rookie. That scenario, however, can be better explained by Oakland not having as many injuries at the position.
Kenyon Coleman, a second-year player, could have a Grant-like breakout in his second season. Sam Williams was drafted as a linebacker but look for Oakland to find ways to use him creatively as an end in some packages.