With the NFL regular season opener less than two weeks away, the Oakland Raiders are still in the same position regarding naming a starting center.
Meaning they have not named one yet.
First there is Barret Robbins, who went AWOL on Super Bowl eve and was subsequently suspended for that game. Robbins, who was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and sought treatment for alcohol abuse, attempt to make a comeback became even tougher when he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery.
He has been limited in practice for most of the exhibition season. Robbins did not play against St. Louis, played sparingly against San Francisco and for most of the second half against Minnesota. Oakland wraps up its exhibition season Thursday night in Dallas before opening the regular season at Tennessee. The question is: will Robbins be there? Teams are required to cut their rosters to 53 players by Sunday.
Raiders head coach Bill Callahan said that Stinchcomb will start Thursday at Dallas but also added that he has not decided on a starter for the opening game. If the issue were ability, Robbins would be the starter without question. Robbins qualified for the Pro Bowl last season and played well enough to do so in two previous seasons. Robbins, however, came into camp with no assurances of a roster spot – let alone his starting job.
Oakland has been fair to Robbins regarding his personal issues. Robbins' limited playing time, however, has not allowed him the opportunity to make his case to regain his starting job. Putting aside his personal problems, can the Raiders afford to keep Robbins as a backup with a $3.2 million dollar cap figure?
Oakland has done a masterful job in getting around the salary cap but keeping Robbins, as an expensive backup may not be feasible.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com