Filed for print . . .
NAPA _ J’Marcus Webb realizes he doesn’t fit the prototype of an NFL guard.
He’s not built like left guard Gabe Jackson, a soft drink machine with feet. His height (6-foot-7) and wing span are classic traits of a tackle, a position he played for all of his 44 starts on both the left and the right side for the Chicago Bears from 2010 to 2012.
Yet there was Webb, continuing to work at the first-team right guard position Wednesday vacated by Austin Howard, who was moved outside to right tackle in the offseason.
“I don’t think I look like a guard, but I feel like a guard,” Webb said.
If Webb can win the job at right guard, it would enable the Raiders to keep veteran Khalif Barnes as a swing player capable of playing anywhere but center, fortifying the line in terms of depth.
“He’s done a nice job,”’ coach Jack Del Rio said. “I think we’re going to have a heck of a line. We have a good physical front, and they’re active.”
The left side of the line, with Donald Penn at tackle and Jackson at guard, is carved in stone, barring injury. The same could be said of center Rodney Hudson.
Webb appears to have the edge at right guard, with Menelik Watson getting first-team work over Howard at right tackle. In one practice sequence, with the offense backed up against its own goal line, inside blocks by Webb and Hudson helped spring Latavius Murray for a nice gain.
Raiders line coach Mike Tice came to Webb with the idea of a position change during the offseason program. Tice was the line coach for the Chicago Bears Webb got all but one of his NFL starts.
His career stalled in the last two seasons in Minnesota, getting one start in 2013 and appearing in a game only once last season before being released Dec. 16. Webb was one of the least talked about of the Raiders free agent acquisitions, signing on April 2.
“It was a great opportunity and I definitely appreciate it,” Webb said. “The move to guard was definitely something I was excited about.. Being a starter is the goal.”
The biggest adjustment for Webb is the increased communication that goes on with Hudson at center, a greater number of combination blocks and very little in the way of the kind of isolation that goes with taking on an outside pass rusher.
“Things happen a little quicker there on the inside,” Del Rio said.
Webb is so far pleased with his progress, particularly since full contact began in training camp.
“I got some time in the offeason to work on my strength and my hands and my focus and I think it’s going pretty good,” Webb said. “You put the pads on and it’s a good time to knock a few heads around and get acclimated to the position.”
Being a guard also means Webb will have farther to go on outside plays, putting a premium on movement.
“Getting out in space and moving around will let me showcase my talents and ability to strike and get my hands on guys,” Webb said.
— Running back Trent Richardson and wide receiver Rod Streater are still on the non-football illness list, and defensive tackle Stacy McGee remains on the physically unable to perform list.
Also out is tight end Clive Walford, who hasn’t been at a full-squad workout, and running back Roy Helu Jr., who missed his second straight practice with an undisclosed injury.
Del Rio didn’t seem overly concerned about the absences.
“I think we’re progressing along just fine with the guys that are hoping to join us,” Del Rio said.
— After a day off, Del Rio said he was pleased with the play early in the session, but that it wasn’t as crisp as the practice went on.
— DJ Hayden had his hands full during one 7-on-7 sequence, giving up three completions in four attempts, with Derek Carr hitting Michael Crabtree twice and Amari Cooper once in his area. On the incompletion, Cooper was open but couldn’t haul in a medium-deep pass.
Hayden had Crabtree closely contested on both completions, with the veteran receiver screening off Hayden as if he were a basketball post player.
Del Rio likes the Carr-Crabtree combination but also said Hayden has been “on point . . .he’s come out and competed and focused really well.”