The Raiders will in all likelihood begin the 2009 season with the same offensive tackles who finished up in 2008.
With free-agent signee Khalif Barnes sustaining a fractured left ankle that will keep him out six to eight weeks, Week 1 against the San Diego Chargers should find Mario Henderson at left tackle and Cornell Green at right tackle.
Henderson in all probability was going to be the left tackle anyway, and he has looked very good so far in practice. Behind the scenes, the hope was Barnes would realize his best chance to start was switching to the right side and push Green, a two-year starter who was originally brought in to be a backup.
Barnes, who signed a one-year contract for $1.3 million was still competing with Henderson at the time of his injury, when teammate James Marten blocked Ryan Boschetti into his ankle Monday.
Barnes was wearing a cast up to his knee as he spoke with the media.
“It was going good. I think Mario’s a good player,” Barnes said. “I think what that does is we have good players who are competing for positions and jobs.
“When you have a strong line and everyone’s strong and coaches have a decision who they want to play, that means you have good O-line. I love the competition and everybody was doing well and we had a good thing going on, but this break happened and I’ll bounce back from it.”
Said coach Tom Cable: “It sets us back a little bit. You just move forward in this business. He will be back, which we are fortunate that way and he should be back rather early. We are fortunate that way. He should be back rather early in terms of the regular season so we will at least depth we were counting on there in the first place.”
With Barnes out, the Raiders signed Seth Wand, who played in one game last season in Week 2 and is a veteran of the zone blocking system. Wand immediately got work in with the second team at left tackle, although Cable named Erik Pears as the backup.
To make room for Wand, the Raiders released Chris O’Neill, a college tight end at Boise State who was attempting to make a conversion to middle linebacker.
More practice notes to come later . . .