Collins might not be back in lineup until October

Although the word out of Oakland is that Mo Collins' knee surgery went well, it's still likely the veteran offensive lineman won't return to the Raiders lineup until early October. Collins will probably need a good three weeks of rehab and will likely need another week or two beyond that to get back into the flow of things.

That means that Collins, projected to be the team's starting right guard, might not return to the starting lineup until Oct. 6 when the Raiders play at Buffalo. Collins, who missed 10 games last year with a fractured leg, is a key part of Oakland's offensive line and any sustained absence on his part could be crucial to the Raiders' potential success.

With Collins unavailable, Oakland has been forced to move Frank Middleton over from left guard to right guard. Middleton started 11 games at right guard for the Raiders last year when Collins was injured, so the adjustment there shouldn't be a problem.

Where it could have an affect, however, is on the left side of the line. Former first-round pick Matt Stinchcomb, who couldn't win a starting job at left tackle, has been moved inside to left guard in Middleton's absence and will start against Seattle in the season-opener Sunday in Oakland. Left tackle Barry Sims has been solid the last two years but reported to camp overweight and was hit with several false start penalties during the preseason.

Those are two situations the Raiders figure to keep close tabs on, particularly since Stinchcomb and Sims are guarding quarterback Rich Gannon's blind side.


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