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Raiders’ rookies right in the middle

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The Raiders will have two rookies right in the middle of things literally and another who could be there figuratively when they visit the Tennessee Titans Sunday at LP Stadium.

Each of the first three draft picks will start _ middle linebacker Rolando McClain (first round, No. 8 overall), left defensive end Lamarr Houston (second round, No. 44 overall) and center Jared Veldheer (third round, No. 69 overall).

Veldheer is the only starter, and considering his background, may have the biggest challenge.

At 6-foot-8 and listed at 315 pounds, Veldheer is already the tallest starting center in NFL history until a stats services unearths a Cro-Magnon -7-footer. He’s had little experience _ the equivalent of a preseason game at most _ yet the Raiders were sure enough of his skill set to sit him out of the preseason finale against Seattle.

He’s been doing the rookie thing since learning of his starting position, politely saying as little as possible _ even to the point where he declined to specify how much center he played in college.

Which, by the way, would be zero.

Nate Schreffler, his college coach at Division II Hillsdale, said Veldheer didn’t play center for the Chargers but most of the film he’d seen during recruiting had him over the ball.

“The center thing was a little bit of a curve ball, but I’m not surprised he can handle it,” Schreffler said when contacted by phone this week. “he;’s just an athletic, competitive kid, and if you ask him to do something, he’ll get it done.. He was a real flexible guy coming out of high school, but didn’t look too tall at his pad level, so I don’t think blocking shorter guys would be an issue.”

That echoes what coach Tom Cable has saying from the start _ that Veldheer may be tall, but he’s built closer to the ground than than most and that the height isn’t necessarily a negative.

Schreffler raved about Veldheer’s capacity for work. He said Veldheer could bench press 185 pounds 10 times upon his arrival _ “ for a guy that size it wasn’t very good” _ and by the time he got to the NFL scouting combine he was in the early 30s with 225 pounds.

By the time Veldheer was a senior, there was rarely a drill where scouts weren’t watching, yet he rarely let it go to his head.

“I told him it wasn’t my job to get him ready for the NFL, it was to get him ready for the next opponent, and he never had a problem with that,” Schreffler said.

Schreffler said it’s his understanding that Veldheer was quickly taken under his wing by veteran left guard Robert Gallery, and that along with veteran right guard Cooper Carlisle, the rookie will have plenty of help on both sides.

Defensively, McClain could have hardly had a bigger challenge for his first NFL game, not that he seems all that intimidated by it.

He will be the middle linebacker charged with defensive signals and alignments in attempting to shut off the NFL’s leading rusher last season, Chris Johnson.

He will in some cases be the spy for Tennessee quarterback Vince Young. That’s a a play-by-play dilemma in that it will be up to McClain to determine whether Young is running to the line of scrimmage to run, or running to the line of scrimmage to back off and throw a pass.

As for Houston, his job won’t be to be in the middle of decision-making, but chances are he’ll be centrally located when skirmishes break out. Since his first practice with the Raiders, Houston has been quick to push and prod, all the while elevating the level of intensity along a defensive unit that sorely needs it.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • ajoakrader

    sup raider nation it starts today and we r gonna get that u know what

  • Thanks…….37m over 5 years!!wow!

  • ajoakrader

    i live in temecula ca. and about 45min away they have a raiders bar in hungington beach. all the raider greats go there

  • ajoakrader

    i was invited but i wanted to watch the first game at home

  • It’s not on the box over here.We’ve got Giants/Panths and Hawks/Niners.I just hope I can get it on the internet.

  • ajoakrader

    watch dmac exploed on these punk titans. this is a statement game and the league will take notice. we run the ball get a early lead and play good defense we win the game

  • ajoakrader

    luckily i have sunday ticket out here so no worries for me getting blacked out.

    go raiders!!!!

  • ajoakrader

    we need to pressure young but not to much cause ya know he’s gonna run it. got to watch when he steps into the pocket

  • I just hope that Bushs’ hand is okay.

  • edward teach

    Watched Bama stifle Penn State last night. There are NFL teams that wish they had the depth at running back that Saban has. I love watching that team. They smack people in the mouth on both sides of the ball, and their special teams are rarely out of position. Very well-coached and fundamentally sound, although some of their DBs don’t wrap real well.

    Add Bryant-Denny Stadium to the list of stadiums that hold 100,000 or more, by the way.

  • Time to go.

    Enjoy the game everyone.

  • ajoakrader

    dmac will run the wildcat today. hell, he invented it so use it hue. put the man in space so he can do what he did in college dominate a game. he can dominate a game thats what we drafted him for.

  • Male Cheerleader

    Lets go Oakland!….lets go Oakland!

  • This was probably mentioned already but Miami released Jake Grove after 1 season, they paid him 14 million for 10 games last year (missed 6 games due to injury).

    As it turns out, it was better to get Satele, at least we have a decent backup still playing on his rookie deal (550 k).

    But maybe we should take a look at Grove again, he remains an excellent run blocker (he did play well when he suited up) and he used to be able to play Guard as well as Center, maybe he can take Carslile’s job and become insurance for Veldheer.

  • TerrapinRaider

    I can’t remember the last time Grove remained healthy for the season. He’s like Chaz in that respect. No need to bring him back in the fold – must keep the train moving forward.

  • I doubt Jake Grove has ever played a whole NFL season, but I’d take whatever we can get out of Grove at RG over 16 games of Carslile, specially now that he’ll come cheap.

  • Male Cheerleader

    Lets go Oakland!!…*clap clap clap*…lets go Oakland!!!

  • edward teach

    Bob Marley,

    Did they say why he was released? I know he injured his shoulder in the last preseason game and had to have x-rays taken on it. Maybe he can’t even play right now?

  • LhayeS37

    jake grove can’t run block,last i checked.as for the wildcat i think the raiders don’t run it,jackson never ran it in baltimore.al davis is to stupid to run the wildcat.despite the fact it would be perfect for mcfadden,i doubht if we will see it.why adjust to the talent you have right al davis?

  • Pito

  • Besides, I’d rather give Grove a roster spot to see if he can beat out Carslile and as a backup C/G than keep Yamon Figurs….I hope Yamon returns one for a TD today and shuts me up.

  • LhayeS37

    so thetitan game goes like this-titans will attack the pocket,force low % throws[deep ones],and pound cj down the raiders throats.if cambell can hit a long pass early,and oakland scores first,they have a chance.but they get down early and tackle like they have for the last 7 years,they will lose by at least 2 tds.

  • kidseven

    1-0

    Make mine a purple and drink it.

  • Raiders 3 titans 0

  • LhayeS37

    they released grove because he is average at best

  • xastrocreepx

    GAMEDAY FELLAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 86-3 RAIDERS!

  • LhayeS37

    iknow 1 thing-i’ll take trent richardson today over mcfadden,but that is an obvious thing

  • Male Cheerleader

    *jumping jacks*…*scizzor kicks*…Lets go Oakland!!

  • Teach

    Some stuff on Grove:

    “Grove, who was signed to a five-year, $29.5 million contract before last season, lost out to Joe Berger for the starting center gig. Nagging injuries sapped his effectiveness and Berger provides a younger, cheaper alternative.

    It remains to be seen if Berger will be as effective as Grove was in run blocking. Grove, who collected $14 million guaranteed from the Dolphins, played in just 10 games for them. He’ll draw significant interest at a reduced cost on the open market.”

    “The Dolphins have opened C Jake Grove’s starting job to competition.

    The idea is surprising, as the Fins were a much better rushing offense when Grove was in the lineup last year. He was also given a $30 million contract last offseason. Joe Berger and Grove are sharing first-team reps during OTA’s.

    The Dolphins averaged 44.2 more rushing yards per game when C Jake Grove was in the lineup.

    Grove missed the majority of six games in 2009 thanks to an ankle injury. The former second-round pick remains a one of the best run-blocking centers in the game. Berger did play well in spot duty last season, and is two years younger.”

  • LhayeS37

    like i said-hit a big play early,force vincey into 3rd and longs and that is a formula for the win.

  • RaiderLen

    Morning Fellas!

    OK. Lets see what our 1st units can do with 4qtrs and a game plan.

    Great test today.

  • I guess it was a combination of things, Grove’s injuries, high salary coupled with a younger, cheaper backup…but it appears Grove did play well when he was on the field as “The Dolphins averaged 44.2 more rushing yards per game when C Jake Grove was in the lineup”.

  • Male Cheerleader

    lmao @ Bob Marley flippin out about Grove!!!!…lmao…lets go Oakland!

  • Sorry if I disturbed your cheerleading buddy, please continue….I can’t wait for the next one!.

  • Ole ole ole ole!
    Ole!
    Ole!
    Raiders!!!!!

  • Male Cheerleader

    Here we go Oakland here we go,…Marley is a homo here we go!!… *cartwheels*

  • 90806RAIDER77

    I will be watching 10:00 mass on channel 2.
    Go Raiders

  • edward teach

    Marley,

    I see what you’re getting at. Obviously Carlisle is on his last legs. I’d be surprised if anyone was brought in to replace him, though. Pretty sure Bruce Campbell is the guy and they’re trying to get him up to speed as soon as they can. I could see Loper there in the meantime if they feel like Carlisle comes to a point where he’s too much of a liability, but to bring in somebody like Grove this late in the game when he’s obviously fragile and can’t be relied on to stay healthy would be surprising, to say the least.

  • Over or under on CJ2K getting 130 yards rushing.

  • RaiderKen

    What up NATION? I’m fricken excited and nervous I need my fix.

  • Charlie

    It has been a while since I have been on but I thought I would point out that the Jake Grove situation is an extremely good example of what has gone wrong in Oakland for the last seven years.

    Our line play has been awful because the limeman are below average in talent.
    No amount of skill talent or all pro DB’s can overcome poor line play.

    Our defense will be better this year because we have four new players in our front seven. The defensive coordinator is not the problem.
    Our offense will be a LITTLE better because we have an NFL QB behind a slightly better OLine.

    Games are won and lost in the trenches.
    Warren, Burgess, Green, Grove, Slaughter etc. were a joke. As we upgrade our lines we will begin to win.

  • RaiderKen

    Raider O
    I say over, but under 150 yds.

  • Teach

    I think we should at least look into it but you’re right, it’s highly unlikely since Campbell is the future and they seem to think Loper might be able to step in if needed.

  • Good Morning Raider Nation!
    1 hr. 15 min.

    🙂

  • If the Raiders win today our end of season record will be
    9-7 or better!

    If we lose today…we’ll be 8-8 or 7-9 if we’re lucky!

  • RaiderKen

    R8eray,
    No negative thoughts.
    We’re gonna win.
    9-7 or better!

  • GG

    Im hoping one story of the game is Mitchell terrorizing the Titans backfield. He may get few snaps, but im hoping he’s part of the gameplan letting him loose to just look for people to hit on every play and soften the Titans.

  • Bauce 4 Real

    LET’S GO BABY!

  • Bauce 4 Real

    Are you muFUGGAZ ready? I’m blitzed out my skull!

  • RaiderKen

    GG,
    I was saying yesterday I hope they use Mitchell to spy Young. A couple nice hits from Mike and Vince will stay in the pocket and throw the ball away.