Newberry inching his way into starting role?

No one is saying anything officially, but it looks like Jeremy Newberry is on his way to supplanting Jake Grove as the Raiders' starting center.

Jeremy Newberry worked almost exclusively with Oakland's starting offense Sunday after Grove began the practice with the first-team, and the former San Francisco 49er looked very strong and showed no signs that his surgically repaired knees were giving him any problem.

"I feel as good as I have in a long, long time," Newberry said following Sunday‘s single practice. "My legs feel good. I'm just excited to be out here feeling healthy. I haven't been able to do that in a long time. I knew I still had plenty of football in me."

The Raiders believed that when they signed Newberry to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, but he was still behind Grove on the depth chart when the team went through offseason workouts. Grove is still ahead on the depth chart but that could be changing soon.

Newberry's knees -- both of which underwent micro fracture surgery in the last two years -- are holding up just fine and he had no problems holding his own when the Raiders went to a blocking drill between offensive and defensive linemen Sunday. Newberry then spent the rest of practice as the starting center while Grove worked with the backups.

"I don't read into that too much," Newberry said. "I'm a confident, confident player. If I'm healthy and I'm ready to play, I don't think there's too many people in this league that's going to beat me out. I let that take care of itself and the coaches will make the decision on their own."

Kiffin likes what Newberry has done so far.

"You do see a guy if he does stay healthy can help us a lot," Kiffin said. "He's really strong, (has) really strong hands, really strong upper body and can deal with the matchups that would give Jake some issues at times.

"His health has been great so far all through the offseason. He's at 322 pounds which is actually a little heavy for him and he's carrying that which is a good thing to see him be able to carry that because we'll get it down and it'll be even easier for him."

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