Raiders line does another shuffle

The much-maligned Oakland Raiders offensive line gets another injection of youth this week. Two rookies will dot the landscape of an already struggling unit.

Paul McQuistan is getting a do-over.

Anointed as the starting right guard for the Raiders after his first professional minicamp, McQuistan found himself on the bench after two difficult games against the Chargers and Ravens.

He will resurface as a starter Sunday against the Bengals at left guard, replacing Corey Hulsey, who is out with a knee injury.

A third-round draft pick out of Weber State, McQuistan was touted as the next Steve Wisniewski, a mauler with a mean streak and a good work ethic. After the Chargers opened the season with nine sacks and Baltimore followed with seven, it was over.

Kevin Boothe, a sixth-round pick from Cornell, was given McQuistan's spot and has held it ever since.

"Things happened pretty fast, and I just had to roll with the punches," McQuistan said. "I've been on the left side the past few weeks now, and I'm more comfortable there. It's where I played in college."

Coach Art Shell said McQuistan appears more comfortable on the left side and that the time on the bench has served him well.

"He understood. He told me today, 'Coach, I learned a lot, I sat back and worked on the things I needed to work on,'" Shell said. "He said he feels a whole lot better than when he started out."

Shell said McQuistan is better at using his hands and arms and has learned to be quicker off the snap count. McQuistan is practicing better because he's thinking less, Shell believes.

"You start thinking and all the stuff starts coming together and it's like wires short-circuiting up top," Shell said.

With McQuistan starting, it means third-year center Jake Grove will be flanked be flanked by rookies on both sides.

Bengals:

One of the reasons Marvin Lewis will not underestimate the Raiders, in spite of their 2-10 record, is the respect he has for Raiders coach Art Shell.

The Bengals have won three in a row to move to 7-5 and into contention for an AFC wild-card berth. In fact, they are the fifth overall seed after 13 weeks.

Cincinnati needs to defeat Oakland.

Lewis and Shell got to know each other well during Shell's time as a league executive. And, of course, Lewis -- as the eighth African-American head coach in league history -- knows how Shell blazed the trail as the first of the modern era.

"Speaking with him in February and March, regarding what he was getting into, you could hear it ring out in his voice," Lewis said of Shell. "He's coaching and pushing his butt off, and they're not getting the feel-good of it come Sundays at the end. This is a hard-working man who's not going to give in.

"He'll get a chance to re-shape (and) re-sift his football team at some point again and go. I think he's been an inspiration to all coaches from the time he became a head coach there the first time, and the success he's had, and how he's come back and handled the thing very classy. He just keeps working hard at it."

Shell reciprocated in the mutual-admiration department.

"I followed his career throughout and knew the guy was going to be an outstanding football coach," Shell said of Lewis. "All he needed was an opportunity. I have to give Mike Brown credit for giving Marvin an opportunity. The Cincinnati Bengals are going to better for it in the long run."

Lewis also knows Shell will get his team motivated. In fact, Shell is playing up the spoilers' role. With three of the Raiders' final four opponents battling for AFC wild-card berths, including the Bengals, Shell has focused his team to ruin somebody's offseason.

"It's a great opportunity for us," Shell said. "It's going to give us a chance to match up with some outstanding football teams and see where we are and hopefully go into the offseason with a nice taste in our mouth instead of the sour taste right now."


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