Grove becoming center of attention

With Adam Treu's shoulder injury, Jake Grove's route to becoming the Oakland Raiders starting center is becoming more of a straight-line.

The path became easier when the Oakland Raiders released Barret Robbins two days before arriving for training camp in Napa, CA. Treu entered camp as the Raiders starting center but even if he had not gotten hurt, Grove would likely have gotten the job ultimately. Treu's meal-ticket has been his long-snapping skills and has been a capable fill-in at center in the past.

Missing the past few days with a shoulder injury, however, will not help matters on getting the starting job.

"I kind of got thrown to the wolves a little bit on the first day," Grove said. "I made some mistakes but going against Ted Washington and Warren Sapp I think is a good experience. They've seen every kind of center and offensive lineman in a game. If I can block those guys I can block anyone in the league."

The Raiders used their second-round pick in last April's draft to select Grove, a unanimous All-America during his senior season at Virginia Tech who was widely regarded as the best center coming out of college this year. Grove is still working his way through the initial stages of his professional career, having taken part in a handful of offseason workouts and the first two days of training camp.

"Things are going great," Grove said. "I'm making some mistakes but I'm trying to learn from them. I'm just trying to keep getting better with every practice."

"He's really doing good," Raiders head coach Norv Turner said. "You see all the physical skills he has. ... Each day he gets better and he's handling it better. He's such a good athlete, with size and strength, and he's handling the challenge of the center position."

Grove added that despite being a threat to both Treu and Robbins, both individuals have been helpful.

"He's helped me out a lot," Grove said of Treu. "He's been a little bit banged up. I've been with the ones and he's really helped me out a lot. Any questions I've had he's been more than happy to answer them. … I met him (Robbins) a couple of times and both times he was pretty friendly. He helped me out as much as he could. It's kind of tough for him too. We were all trying to learn the system. Any questions I had, he was willing to help."

The Raiders figure to make more use of the shotgun under first-year head coach Norv Turner, something that was never done under Jon Gruden or Bill Callahan. Grove added that learning the mental part of the game such as recognition and making line calls are an adjustment.

"It's a new system for me," Grove said. "The first time I got in there, especially during minicamp, I didn't know what I was doing. Things are now slowing down a lot for me and I'm picking things up. It's a lot easier now than it was a week ago."

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