Jackson was exclusively a left guard throughout four years as a starter at Mississippi State and two seasons with the Raiders. Osemele was a left guard as well, but had experience on the right side as a rookie tackle when the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl.
Once the Raiders re-signed Donald Penn and it was clear Osemele wouldn’t be a tackle, Jackson got a call from line coach Mike Tice.
“I mean, coach said he wanted to experiment with it and see which one of us would be comfortable playing it, so that’s what phase we’re in right now,” Jackson said Tuesday following the Raiders’ organized team activity.
Coach Jack Del Rio sounded as if he expected it to remain that way.
“I think from our standpoint we’re looking for the best combination, we feel he’s got the power you really covet for a right guard,” Del Rio said. Both are really talented and the decision we made was to try it that way first. I’ve seen nothing to suggest anything other than he’s giong to be fine doing that and that w’ll be a much stronger unit and we’ll end up being very stout.”
At the very least, the switch allows Jackson to brush up on his right side skills. Tice and Del Rio are big believers in being able to play both sides, given the level of NFL attrition and the fact that not all linemen are necessarily active each Sunday.
Jackson is going about the switch in his usual easy-going manner.
“I mean, it’s a learning process and there are growing pains but it’s also fun, too,” Jackson said. “This is a good time of the year to do it. You can’t over think it. You’ve just got to be a football player.”
Osemele, came to the Raiders with a reputation for aggressive play, and it was borne out Tuesday when he scuffled with rookie tackle Jihad Ward.
Asked what he liked about Osemele, Jackson said, “Attitude. He’s got a mean streak and I love it. I told him when I saw him on film last year I liked the way he plays. Our line can use that.”
There is talk of the Raiders potentially being one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, but Jackson is trying not to get caught up in the hype.
“We hear it, and I’m sure the rest of the guys hear it, but `he said, she said’ doesn’t really matter,” Jackson said, “We’ve just got to go out there, focus on getting better and being the best offensive line.”