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Looking for a middle man

Sixth in a series of concerns regarding the makeup of the 2008 Raiders with the reporting date approaching on July 24 at the Napa Marriott:

Lane Kiffin would never admit it, but the Raiders’ startling lineup will be set when the team reports to the Napa Marriott on July 23.

The only gray areas for the silver and black are at right tackle, where Mario Henderson hopes to unseat Cornell Green, and center, where a three-way battle between John Wade, Chris Morris and Jake Grove will be one of the most interesting competitions during training camp.

Kiffin has warned against reading too much into minicamp lineups, but the largest share of first-team reps during media availability periods has gone to Morris, the third-year player out of Michigan State.

Wade worked with the first team during one of the organized team activities, while Grove, who was thought to be the center of the future when he was drafted after Robert Gallery in 2004, has been rehabbing a knee injury and could be getting his last chance to claim the position assuming he is healthy enough to play when camp opens.

Morris is the least powerful and talented of the three players but may be the best at executing the cut blocking that the zone blocking concept requires. It is not unusual for zone blocking teams to utilize smallish centers who can move, guys who wouldn’t have a chance to even make a roster on power blocking teams. Denver did this for years with Tom Nalen.

Wade, 33, would be another temporary fix along the lines of Jeremy Newberry, although a more durable one.

In five seasons with Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, Wade has started 106 out of 126 games played. He is a smart, capable veteran who Kiffin said would be similar to Newberry in terms of being a leader to a relatively young line.

Although Newberry wanted to return, and Tom Cable wanted him to return, chances are Al Davis made the right call on this one. It was remarkable to see Newberry hold up as well as he did, and it’s difficult to imagine it happening again. He is probably better off as a backup at this stage of his career, which is what he will be in San Diego.

Grove came out of Virginia Tech with the reputation of having a nasty streak, and was in fact a bigger star at defensive tackle than as an offensive lineman as a high schooler in Virginia.

But all that attitude hasn’t been enough to move defensive linemen consistently at the NFL level. As a result, Grove has worked on building up his upper body while rehabbing his knee. It remains to be seen whether the added bulk will hurt Grove in terms of executing the footwork the blocking scheme requires.

Kiffin went out of his way to talk up Grove as an important part of the center competition. Short of that, if he is healthy enough, Grove would be the most likely of the three players to bring something back in the form of a training camp trade.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • mcfaddenswagon

    yeah i loved niner fans reaction after the draft when we got mcfadden, u can see the jealousy.

  • El Dirty

    WE NEED TO DOMINATE EVERYONE 16-0!! (I can dream)

  • http://www.Raiders.com Oakglenn

    Wow. Fun, knowledge, good Raider talk, good spirits, something seems to be missing…………can’t put my finger on it tho.

  • 909raiderlifer

    El Dirty..#499

    sweet, good call on that one.

    rusted bolt, fans never have been the sharpest knife in the ol’ drawer..lol.

  • Thec

    dischargers wont ever win a SB it is not their birthright to win.

    Winning in the NFL is a NATION birthright.

    It is not in the dischargers DNA to ever win a SB.

    I expect this group of NATION members to win at least 2 SB’s.

  • Thec

    I got a bet with a discharger fan. I bet him that we would gain 230 yards or more on the ground.

    dischargers have a good defense, the achilles is williams, his knees are shot doubt if he makes it thru the season, they have no real backup. to the mediots who gave them the title of AFC west allready dont count on that just yet.

  • El Dirty

    They have this year to win after that they spiral

  • Thec

    Thats 230 yards on the ground in 2 games.
    easiest money you will ever make……

  • mcfaddenswagon

    ite raider nation out for the weekend, yall have a good one, its getting closer….

  • 909raiderlifer

    N-O-R-V-A-L. Will work his ineptitude, this year. The division is ours for the taking.

  • Thec

    The funny thing is no one is really talking about the injuries. Last I heard LT was crying that he felt pain when he cut….what a pu$$y, i dont have any respect for him. the thing i want to see that i know is going to happen is that we paramedic rivers. Hardwick may or may not be ready which is why they signed our garbage. hardwick is the anchor of the o-line and with him out it is going to be tough. The big key for the dischargers is gates. he is not fully healed from his injury but he is a gamer and will suit up unlike that biotch lt, f him anyway.

    i say te window closes shut on them and there starting backup qb, and they slink right back to the rightfull place of being nothing.

  • Thec

    909, your right this division is more open than most think. The back up to that biotch lt is sproles, and hester. ROFLMAO

  • Thec

    norv turner when he gives interviews sounds like an incompetent idiot… i cant stand that guy.

  • Thec

    NATION out u uys soak it up the time is drawing near for us to take our rightfull place, and in the process give the middle finger news to all the haters, doubter, mediots, and bandwagoners.

    I see and hear of lots of imitations, but there exist
    only one NATION.

  • 909raiderlifer

    Thec…

    It seems that you have a deep seated, hatred for ol’ Phillip ehh??…lol..

  • El Dirty

    That’s a good bet

  • DoeDoe
  • 909raiderlifer

    You guys, have a good weekend. And all you NO-CAL’S, hang in there w/ all the fires & smoke up there.

    Just talked w/ a friend, who was in the Sac-Town area today on business , he said the air quality was pretty rough… hang in there..

    Mother Nature, can still be a bitch…

  • http://none MR

    If Al has any nuts at all he will sign FARVE to a one year contract. Don’t bother responding.

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    we dont need that old guy we got Jamarcus…..

  • Mistabrown

    Signing Favre would set Jamarcus back in his development and his moral would be shot….dumb move.

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    Yeah we need to sign Nnamdi ufck everybody else Nnamdi deserves hes scrill ya dig..

  • http://none MR

    Are you guys telling me you’d rather have JaMarcus (basically a rookie) Russell starting at QB for the Raiders NEXT YEAR than Brett(Hall of Fame)Farve? Oh, I forgot who I was dealing with. Don’t bother responding.

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    yes thats what Im saying :?

  • http://none MR

    Russell is a rookie. Farve had a great year last year. The guy can still play. You don’t think the Raiders offense, not to mention the coaching staff, would benefit from all of Farve’s experience? Don’t bother responding.

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    We need to keep rebuilding cuz that reload bs hasnt been working 4 us lately… BTW I asked all day and no 1 could produce the picture of you (MR) in the jammies (whiner) and the dog montanna so ur still a raider fan in my book…

  • http://none MR

    The Raiders wouldn’t need a run defense with Farve at QB. The Raiders would win the Super Bowl NEXT year with Farve at QB, and the following year Russell would be ready to take over. Russell would benefit more than anyone. Gruden would do it. Don’t bother reponding.

  • http://none MR

    Ron Wolf would do it. Don’t bother responding.

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