Camp analysis: Offensive line


Fifth in a series of posts analyzing Raiders position groups, with players reporting to training camp Tuesday:

Projected starters: LT Mario Henderson, LG Robert Gallery, C Samson Satele, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT Khalif Barnes. Backups: C John Wade, C-G Chris Morris, G Jonathan Compas, G Marcus Johnson, G-T Paul McQuistan, T James Marten, T Cornell Green, T Erik Pears, T Mark Wilson.

When Tom Cable finally pulled the plug on the Kwame Harris experiment _ his biggest personnel mistake since joining the Raiders _ the much-maligned Henderson got his chance and got the better of Richard Seymour, Mario Williams and Gaines Adams in the last three games, making him the front-runner to protect the blind side of JaMarcus Russell. As time passes, Gallery’s contract doesn’t look all that ridiculous. He’s making what an elite guard makes. The only thing between Gallery and Pro Bowl recognition is a winning season. Satele was a two-year starter in Miami who had trouble moving some of the elite interior linemen of the AFC East but played with a shoulder injury which has since been surgically repaired. Carlisle’s play slipped in 2008 after a strong 2007, but the Raiders thought enough of him to re-sign him when he hit free agency. Green was never expected to be a starting right tackle, but there he is. Ideally, either Henderson, Barnes or Pears seizes the position. Pears was a starter in Denver in 2007 with experience in the zone blocking system. Morris is a system fit who can play both guard and center. Johnson was a former Minnesota second-round draft pick who Cable envisions as a guard rather than a tackle, a switch which worked for Gallery. McQuistan, out with a knee injury last year, is a mauler whose work in space makes him suspect for the system. Marten is big and agile, but never got a sniff after being claimed off Dallas’ practice squad last year even though tackles were struggling. Compas could be a practice squad candidate. Wilson keeps hanging around, and in the zone blocking system, sometimes obscure linemen emerge.

The key battle: Henderson vs. Barnes. Winner anchored at left tackle. Runner-up moves to the right.

What I think: Henderson endured public potshots from Lane Kiffin last year, but never really had the confidence of Cable, either, who kept playing Harris even though he was mostly a disaster. The third-year tackle does have the support of Al Davis, who duly noted in a press conference how Henderson made Seymour, Williams and Adams disappear. It will be a major surprise if he doesn’t start the season at left tackle, and he likely won’t get as much help as he has in the past. It’s time to put Henderson on the island. Barnes had a season in Jacksonville which was similar to Harris’ season with the Raiders, full of false starts and sacks allowed. He’s on a one-year contract in hopes of boosting his value, and needs to be sold on the merits of changing positions and then brought up to speed. If the Raiders are again weak at tackle, it puts Russell at risk in terms of both injury and would reduce his chances to be an effective quarterback even if he remains upright. One thing in the line’s favor _ if Lorenzo Neal still has all his skill as a blocking fullback, everyone just got a little better.

What could go wrong: There is very little in the way of proven depth. Injury or ineffectiveness puts Green back on the field, and there are no guards on the roster who approach the experience or cut-blocking skill of Gallery or Carlisle.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Nnamdi21

    RaiderMario420 Says:
    July 24th, 2009 at 9:38 pm
    First off, I like Mario Henderson and think he can be a quality starter for us for years to come. That being said, the LT position’s main responsibility is protecting the quarterback’s blind-side. So while Henderson may be a superior run-blocker than Khalif Barnes, Barnes is considered to be the superior pass-blocker and should be given the nod at LT whilst Henderson takes over at RT.


    Actually Henderson is NOT a superior or even good run blocker. Gets too high in his pads and doesn’t play with enough balance.

    He does however excel in protection with a decent kick slide, solid fundamentals, good hand placement and understanding of the position.

    The knock on Barnes is his lack of feet and the fact he gets beat by the occasional inside move.

    HE is considered the better blocker sealing off running lanes. Good jolt and quick off the snap.

  • DirtyRaccoon

    I am the Walrus goo goo cjoob!

  • Crow

    Projected starters: LT Mario Henderson, LG Robert Gallery, C Samson Satele, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT Khalif Barnes


    **LT Mario Henderson: He’s been getting wildly overhyped since taking over for Kwame Harris. It’s amazing how good “below average” looks when it takes the place of “god awful.”

    Henderson has nonexistent run blocking ability and a highly dubious work ethic. Yes, he held Mario Williams without a sack, but he also got his arse handed to him when we tried to run. If NFL Network shows the replay of Williams blowing by Henderson untouched and making the stop on a run going away from him, I may become incontinent.

    Sadly, I expect a major disappointment here. I believe that anyone expecting Henderson to play 16 games like an NFL caliber LT is going to be covering their faces in shame before the bye.

    **LG Robert Gallery: In my opinion, the only player on the 2008 O-line who could start and play well anywhere in the league. Apparently, someone thinks Jake “Hurty” Grove falls into that category. I guess we’ll see soon enough.

    **C Samson Satele: Miami shipped him off in favor of Jake Grove. That concerns me. Nevertheless, he has the mobility to be effective on the move in this scheme. Question is, can he do any better against Jamal Williams than he did against Kris Jenkins or Vince Wilfork? Our inside running game in week 1 will depend on it. Should be no concern for Darren McFadden fans. He can’t run inside anyway.

    **RG Cooper Carlisle: His ’08 falloff is well documented, yet Al gives him a multiyear contract as if he thought CC can wake up young again in 2009 as easily as he woke up old last season. Here’s to hoping my guy Paul McQuistan can handle zone blocking better than he’s given credit for, or that Marcus Johnson left his propensity for poor play in Minnesota.

    **RT Khalif Barnes: This guy was a quality LT for a few years, or at least he looked like one at a glance. But after losing his inside help to injury, his game completely fell off. Still a steady run blocker, his inability to stop (or, on some occasions, slow down) opposing pass rushers is one of the primary reasons some talking heads are pointing at David Garrard as a QB on the hotseat.

    Personally, I think Garrard is a very good QB who spent most of 2008 running for dear life.

    Now, in hopes of allowing JaMarcus Russell to stand in the pocket unmolested, we bring in a new turnstile. Suffice to say that Garrard won’t miss him. One can only hope that a move to the strong side and a new scheme will help Barnes regain his old form. But, one could rightfully fear that those two very significant changes could just as easily make the 2009 season an even more disastrous event for the formerly steady tackle.

    By season’s end, I expect Henderson will be banished to the bench with either Barnes or Pears getting a shot at LT, if not both.

    Poor JaMarcus. No wonder he doesn’t put in the effort to be a good QB. He knows he’s going to get beaten to a pulp every Sunday no matter what he does.

  • Florida Pete

    raider nation is vewwy vewwy quiet…


  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    Morning All,
    From TMZ:
    Feds: Francis Paid Off Guards with Raider Tix
    Posted Jul 25th 2009 12:40AM by TMZ Staff

    Federal agents believe there’s a reason Girls Gone Wild kingpin Joe Francis had such a wonderful time during his 2007 jail stint in Reno — they claim he bought off his jailers with gifts, including tickets to see the Oakland Raiders!

    Three former Washoe County jail employees were arrested for allegedly taking all sorts of lavish gifts from the porn king in exchange for jail favors — like unrestricted phone use, the ability to sneak in food and protection from disciplinary action.

    According to the feds, Aaron Weinstein, one of Joe’s GGW producers played the role of delivery man — allegedly dropping off a slew of gifts to the jail employees, including a $4500 Cartier watch, a $5000 gift card to Sax Fifth Avenue, $3,200 in cash, a big screen TV, a home entertainment system, airline tickets, and, of course, tickets to see the Oakland Raiders lose.

    Weinstein was also arrested and charged with paying off a public official. If convicted, he faces up to 2 years in prison and serious cash fines.

  • Scottish Raider

    Crow, excellent analysis.

    We must hope that a few of the following happen:

    1) Henderson continues to remain solid in pass-protection but starts to make a contribution to the running game.

    2) Barnes fall-off last season was temporary and he rediscovers his excellent rookie form.

    3) James Marten starts to show why the Cowboys were so disappointed to lose him.

    4) Johnson fits well at RG and adds more muscle and power than Carlisle can offer.

    I agree with Jerry about the likely starters. I just think we might end up with a line that looks like:

    LT: Barnes
    LG: Gallery
    C: Satele
    RG: Johnson
    RT: Marten

  • Terrapin

    The Oline will obviously be key to JRs development. The Ts are an upgrade (at least at 1st glance, we’ll see on the field). If Mario does indeed turn out to be “Super” – JR will be one step closer to absolute dominance.

    Giving any QB in the NFL enough time to dissect plays is paramount to treason – even more so if that QB has the perceived talent/ability that Russell possess.

    Give Russell enough time and it’ll be Star Wars all over the field – freakin’ intercontinental missiles being launched all over stadium. With the speed at wideout – the key to it all is the Ts.

  • OFL71

    The line on both sides is suspect at best.
    Hopefully Lorenzo will help with pass protection.
    We need to use less Fargas and more Bush/McFadden.
    And the most obvious…it’s time to start drafting along the line,so many high picks the last few years and nothing to show for it on either side of the line.

  • RaiderJohn

    Dear Jamarcus Russell,
    In a year where all the TV analysts are saying this is your make or break season I disagree. Typically the rule is 3 years before the “bust” tag can be applied and your first year didn’t count because of the hold-out. That contract is done, feed and house your family well and give us fan-family what we deserve; A Super Bowl!! Not this year, no pressure but in time? Yes, I believe in you.
    So as a big fan of yours and an active member of the Raider Nation I have to ask you: ARE YOU READY? Are you ready to quiet the critics? Are you ready to handle the media? And most important are you ready to be the LEADER of the Oakland Raiders for the next 15 seasons? In the huddle, in the locker room, off and on the field, down by 7 with 1:32 in the 4th? ARE YOU READY?
    Your skill is a gift, a god-given gift that was given to you for the purpose of winning and entertaining. And you ARE a RAIDER, so let’s do this huh? I don’t know yet if they gave you that right tools to be a true passer with DHB. Khalif Barnes etc..but only time will tell. And Garcia? They just put him there to light your fire. That’s all. You are the starter for now, but listen to Jeff because he has been around the block a few times seeing that he is 39 years old and all. But also know this, you are 24 years old right? You have your whole life ahead of you, don’t you want to go to the hall of fame some day? I think it’s possible but you need to apply yourself as a leader NOW! That’s where it starts.
    While critics say what they say about you, they rarely mention the positive. Never have a seen you blame your WR’s or your O-line men, or slag off your team mates in the media (think Ryan Leaf), You seem to be accountable on the field. Never mind the big arm, that’s just something you already have. You were born to do this.
    This season understand this; our defense against ranks worst against the run, and this will not allow you much time to even be on the field as teams will again know to simply eat up the clock on the Raiders by running the ball over and over. This was not addressed in the off season. The schedule is also VERY difficult. This means that 2-6 by mid-season is very possible. But it won’t be your fault necessarily , the organization is to blame for not putting the right people in place. Garcia will come in, he’ll win a couple games and the analysts will go crazy. Warren Sapp will be beaming with arrogance (even though he praised you a few months ago, what’s wrong with that dude?), and people will say “I told you so” BUT they will be wrong. I know there is greatness in you, I know you are pro-bowl material, and I know you can take US to the Super Bowl.
    So go into this season as the leader of the Oakland Raiders, hold your head up high, get the team to play for you and gather around you and respect you as a LEADER!!

    -A true fan

  • Raidercowgirl

    Just wondering why yall say James Marten came from the Cowboys practice squad? He has never been there practice squad and is way over talented to ever be on anyones practice squad.

  • BetterFly

    Agreed on James Marten; he is a big, agile and smart lineman which the Raiders could very much use. Not that draft pick rank means everything, but he was a top of the third round pick and has the legacy of BC linemen. Perhaps the Raiders will evaluate talent based on performance and potential, not whatever system they are using now.