Langston Walker, thrust into action as guard for the first time in six years two weeks ago, will start at left guard Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Chris Morris, who received a game ball in that same game against Pittsburgh for holding the line together at center, and helping keep Walker abreast of his assignments, will go to the bench and be the backup at center and guard.
It’s not surprising the Raiders would make a change up front after surrendering eight sacks in a 34-13 loss to Washington, and Morris is taking the fall.
Asked what went into the change, Raiders coach Tom Cable said, “Just the play of what we got last week at left guard and trying to secure that a little bit.”
Walker joked openly in the days after the Steelers game about how Cable approached him during the game, asking him what schemes he liked, with Walker replying, “I don’t like any of it.”
He likes it a little more now.
“I do feel a little bit better at it, just because I’ve had a week’s practice at it,” Walker said. “The coaching staff is pretty confident in me playing it. I’m just going to go out there and do it.”
Having gone from prized free agent signee in Buffalo to out of a job in the past year until the Raiders signed him on Oct. 14, Walker isn’t looking much past the next game.
“I’ve always been, ‘You want me to do this? I can do it.’ I put that in my mind that I can do it and I go out there and play at the highest level that I can,” Walker said. “In terms of a permanent solution, who knows? I’ve seen stranger things. I could drop 100 pounds and might play linebacker or something like that.”
Walker’s ascension could be a hint the Raiders intend to run some power plays to their left. Moving the ball with the run could help neutralize right outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil who leads the NFL with 15 sacks.
More news and notes:
— Cable said Zach Miller will be tested later today to determine whether the tight end can face Denver Sunday. Miller did not practice all week. It will likely be classified as a “game time decision” but expect Miller to be on the inactive list Sunday.
As for Miller’s replacement, Cable said “it wouldn’t matter” who starts between Tony Stewart and Brandon Myers because both will play.
— Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey has been listed as “out” against Denver, meaning the rookie will miss his third straight game. Asked if there was something more serious at work with Heyward-Bey’s injury, Cable said, “foot sprain.”
— Also listed as out are quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (knees) and wide reciever/return specialist Nick Miller (tibia). LB Sam Williams is questionable after missing practice due to an illness.
DE Matt Shaughnessy (groin), S Michael Huff (stinger) and DE Greg Ellis (knee) made it through the entire practice and are all probable.
Ellis hadn’t practiced all week, and don’t be surprised if that’s the way the Raiders handle his knee through the last three weeks _ getting him involved in one late-week practice and keeping him fresh for game day.