Grove set to anchor the line

There have been an abundance of questions regarding the offensive line in Oakland. After an abysmal showing last year in which the line struggled to open holes and defend the pass, Jake Grove has remained the constant at center. While others are moving around to new positions, the former Virginia Tech center is maintaining the status quo.

Jake Grove is familiar with transition. During his tenure at Virginia Tech, the 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman spent plenty of time at guard, lining up at the position throughout his sophomore season.

A year later, he had found his home at center, culminated with the Rimington Award, given to nation's best collegiate player at the position.

When he sees Barry Sims moving inside to left guard and Robert Gallery assuming the position at tackle, Grove understands the implications. He has, after all, been through it before.

"My sophomore year I played the whole year at guard," Grove acknowledged. "I think that really helped. Playing center, you don't have a one-on-one block every play like you do at guard. It was a great advantage for me that I didn't see at the time but looking back on it the past couple of years, it really helped me as a center."

And the staff is looking for improvement across the board. They are putting their people in the best position to succeed, thus keeping Grove at his familiar position.

Where he also fits in nicely with the new scheme being deployed by two Hall of Famers, head coach Art Shell and offensive line coach Jackie Slater, and co-offensive line coach Irv Eatman. With two coaches for one position, Grove admits he is learning more now than ever before – citing dedicated time to work with the staff in a more personal setting.

What he does not need to be schooled on is the influx of athleticism at the quarterback position should Aaron Brooks get the nod.

Grove has seen the varied protection angles associated with blocking for Michael Vick. And that continued when Marcus Vick and Bryan Randall were in the huddle, making plays with their feet.

But his main function is pounding his opponents into submission, taking them out of the play so it won't matter where Brooks, or any other quarterback for that matter, winds up.

"I consider myself a very aggressive player," Grove said. "Every play, I try to keep my guy as far away from the ball as possible. If every player does that, I don't see any reason why we can't be successful on every single play. If my guy's standing up around the pile, I didn't do my job. I want him to be on his back every single play."

The Raiders hope that he meets his goals. It will mean that the line has begun to dominate and control the line of scrimmage. It will mean LaMont Jordan has the daylight he seeks. It will mean wins – and that is the only thing that matters.

SB Report Top Stories