Veteran Jared Veldheer is working at left offensive tackle in practice today, with Khalif Barnes replacing Lucas Nix at left guard. The former was expected, the latter speculated about.
Veldheer entered this season as the incumbent left tackle. However, he suffered a triceps injury in training camp that necessitated surgery. He spent most of the past 3 1/2 months recovering from his injury and working his way back into shape.
Coach Dennis Allen and Veldheer said the plan is for Veldheer to make his 2013 debut Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys. If so, that would be Veldheer’s first game action of any kind since last season.
Nix has been inconsistent at left guard. As a result, it makes sense that the Raiders would consider moving Barnes to guard.
Barnes has vast experience at both tackle spots. He has played guard once in a regular-season game. That came in 2010 when he played 31 snaps as a backup.
Barnes has played mostly right tackle since he joined the Raiders in 2009. However, once he moved to left to fill in for Veldheer this season, the Raiders signed veteran Tony Pashos to play right tackle.
Pashos has played well enough to remain in the starting lineup, which gives the Raiders the flexibility of playing Barnes at guard.
– Tight end Mychal Rivera and cornerback Mike Jenkins are at practice for the second straight day despite suffering concussions Sunday.
Rivera said Monday night that he has been cleared to practice and play in games. Jenkins was limited at practice Monday, and he seemed less than full strenght today.
Linebacker Kevin Burnett also is on the field once again, showing no lingering effects from the quadriceps bruise he suffered Sunday. He appears to be ready to go for the Cowboys game.
– Wide receiver Denarius Moore, defensive end Jason Hunter and strong safety Tyvon Branch are the only three players not at practice. They also weren’t in attendance Monday night.
Therefore, it’s unlikely that any of the aforementioned trio will play Thursday.
– Running back Darren McFadden is at practice for the second straight day, as well. At one point, he took some reps, which we haven’t seen since he suffered a hamstring injury against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 3.
McFadden said he felt well enough to play against the Titans, but he opted to sit out one more game so that he has a better chance of holding up the final five games.
Regardless, it’s likely that Allen is going to lean on Rashad Jennings more than McFadden once McFadden returns, given Jennings rushed for 413 yards the past four games, which is more than McFadden amassed in seven games.