Stinchcomb in the mix for starting center

"He is a great guy to work with. I can't say enough great things about Matt Stinchcomb. He's a guy that you want to have on your side when you go to war. He's an individual that is going to give you everything he's got. He's worked really hard in the offseason. He continues to push for a starting position at center and left guard. This camp is really pivotal." -- Raiders head coach Bill Callahan

 

The assumption is that the starting center battle on the Oakland Raiders is between Barret Robbins and Adam Treu.

            Don't forget Matt Stinchcomb.

            The fifth-year player was drafted as a tackle from Georgia in 1999 with the No. 18 overall pick. Stinchcomb has since slid inside at guard, where he is competing for a starting spot along with center. Read into it what you wish but Stinchcomb spent some time working with the first-unit Friday morning.

            "We've got good competition there," Raiders head coach Bill Callahan said. "We wanted to take a look at Stinch. We've got confidence in Adam and Matt has that versatility. We've talked about his ability before at center. He's a little more seasoned. He can play the guard position."

            Stinchcomb has undergone quite an evolution. After missing the entire 1999 season with a shoulder injury, he was mostly a tackle the next two seasons. Stinchcomb started in place of Mo Collins at left guard for the early part of last season. Stinchcomb, who said in 2001 that he has not played center since he was 11-years old, also took some practice reps that season when Robbins sustained a season-ending knee injury.

            "He is a great guy to work with," Callahan said. "I can't say enough great things about Matt Stinchcomb. He's a guy that you want to have on your side when you go to war. He's an individual that is going to give you everything he's got. He's worked really hard in the offseason. He continues to push for a starting position at center and left guard. This camp is really pivotal."

            Stinchcomb's career performance has not been what the Raiders envisioned when they drafted him so high. Stinchcomb, however, showed enough promise last season to make himself a viable candidate for a starting job.

            There was some speculation that the Raiders may draft a center in case they decided not to keep Robbins, a Pro Bowler, after his Super Bowl Eve disappearance. The fact that Oakland did not draft one may show its confidence in Stinchcomb.

            "I think he's extremely confident," Callahan said. "I think that when you make position changes from tackle to guard to center. It's very difficult. It's a tough transition but if any one did it well it was Matt."

 Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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