Position outlook: Center

This is one story in a series of position outlooks for the Oakland Raiders. Today, we look at center:

Looking back: When the Oakland Raiders released Barret Robbins days before the start of training camp, it was generally assumed the Jake Grove would become the starting center.

After all, the Raiders drafted Grove last April in the second round from Virginia Tech and teams usually do not draft a player that high without having plans to make that player the starter. Another reason it seemed like a good bet for Grove to be the starter was that while Adam Treu had proven to be a capable option as a fill-in, his meal-ticket in the NFL was as a longsnapper.

Under Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan, the Raiders were reluctant to have Treu handle double-duty as both the center and longsnapper even though Treu had also performed solidly when filling in for Robbins. Norv Turner, however, does not seem to have such reservations.

Grove became a starter midway through the season but it wound up being at right guard rather than center. Grove particularly had trouble in training camp snapping the ball in shotgun formations, some the Raiders use occasionally under Turner but never used under Gruden or Callahan.

Looking ahead: Treu doesn't necessarily do anything spectacular but he has proven to be a more than serviceable option at center. Treu will certainly always have a job in the NFL because of his longsnapping skills.

Treu figures to be the favorite to be the Raiders starter at center. Grove and fellow second-year man to-be Robert Gallery (right tackle) are building blocks for the offensive line.

Grove did a solid job at guard but the question is will the Raiders keep him there or will they give him another shot at competing for the center job? Grove will have to improve his shotgun snapping for the latter to happen. Nonetheless, the Raiders would be in good shape with Treu at center and Grove at guard.

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

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