Looking back: Like just about every other position on the Oakland Raiders, this was a revolving door in 2003. Given the uncertainty of Pro Bowler Barret Robbins' physical and much publicized mental health, Matt Stinchcomb started the first three games at center before Robbins returned to the starting lineup.
Robbins did not necessarily play to his Pro Bowl form of 2002 but showed great courage in openly addressing his problem with alcoholism and bipolar disorder. Robbins played well when in the lineup but his arthritic knee forced him to miss the last quarter of the season with Adam Treu, who is the long-snapper, replacing him.
Looking ahead: Robbins showed that he is still an upper-echelon center when healthy. If he is in good physical and mental condition, he will be the starter but the question becomes – is the 30-year old Robbins damaged goods? The Raiders might have to prepare for him not starting.
Oakland faces the same problems, just physically, with Stinchcomb. The Raiders drafted Stinchcomb as a tackle in 1999 but has been versatile enough to play guard and center. Stinchcomb, however, has had a career marred by injury.
The team has the confidence in Treu, who started 14 games in 2001 and Super Bowl XXXVII in place of Robbins. The Raiders, however, have always been reluctant to sacrifice Treu's long-snapping skills.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org