O-Line status still unclear

As the Oakland Raiders enter their second exhibition game Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys, the state of the offensive line is the same as it was entering training camp.

In a nutshell, it is potentially very good but currently still a little bit cloudy as the Raiders prepare for a season that for the first time since 1988 does not include either Steve Wisniewski, Lincoln Kennedy or Barret Robbins.

"We're looking hard at where we're at and want to come away with the best five guys playing, but those guys are all playing well" Raiders head coach Norv Turner said. "The one thing we have is fairly veteran linemen. They are handling things extremely well. There comes a point where you have to get going and get the five in who are going to be playing. And, hey, that might be the five who are playing. Or it might not be."

At left tackle, Robert Gallery, whom the Oakland Raiders chose with the second overall pick in the NFL draft, is expected to replace Barry Sims. Gallery, however, hyper extended his elbow in Monday's practice and still very well could replace Sims as Gallery's injury is not believed to be serious. Sims, however, has done nothing to hurt himself so far but you don‘t draft someone like Gallery without having desires to start him.

Adam Treu remains the starting center but Jake Grove, who is the Raiders second round pick, got a lot of playing time in Saturday's 33-30 win over the San Francisco 49ers and figures to get a longer look Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys. Keep in mind, Treu, the ever reliable long snapper, entered last year's camp as the starter only to have Matt Stinchcomb replace him.

Right guard remains a tight battle. Ron Stone, who signed as a free agent from San Francisco, is the projected starter but has only practiced for four days as he missed a lot of time because of a hamstring injury. Mo Collins continues to be out of action with a knee injury. Brad Badger is a capable option but with Stone back, Badger essentially becomes Mr. Fix-It as a capable option everywhere on the line.

Frank Middleton is still the man at left guard but that's not a slamdunk, especially if Gallery beats out Sims, freeing him up to slide to left guard.

Right tackle is the closest thing to a settled position on the line with Langston Walker, who has impressed the coaches. Where then does Collins fit into the picture? As a backup right tackle? As a viable option at right guard? Or will he be a salary cap casualty?

As of now, the only current No. 1 on the line who appears safe is Walker.


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