Fri, 19 Apr 2019

Raiders could get boost from G Osemele

Sports Xchange
23 Oct 2018, 13:38 GMT+10

With everything else that went on with the Oakland Raiders on Monday, the fact that Kelechi Osemele might be back at left guard on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, wasn't even a blip on the radar screen.

But, boy, do they need him.

The Raiders' offensive line was regarded as one of the best in football early last season, but actually has not played like it since two years ago, when quarterback Derek Carr's protectors were a key factor in a 12-4 season.

In Oakland's last game before the bye week, Carr rarely had time to take one look into the Seattle Seahawks' defense before having to unload the football or get pummeled, sometimes both, in an embarrassing 27-3 setback at Wembley Stadium in London.

Osemele, perhaps Oakland's second-best lineman behind center Rodney Hudson, was a big factor in the early development of rookie left tackle Kolton Miller, who has struggled mightily the last two weeks while playing through a partial ligament tear in his right knee, similar to the injury that has kept Osemele out for two games.

It didn't help that his mentor wasn't there alongside him.

"We're doing the right thing holding K.O. and playing Miller," head coach Jon Gruden said. "They're both fighting through some difficulties like a lot of guys do in this league. Hopefully we get K.O. back (after the bye).

"That downtime could help him return and Miller get back to full strength. Both of those developments would be important. That'll help our left tackle play better. He's missed the last two games. Just so happens that our left tackle has struggled a little bit. When you're switching stunts and working combination blocks, it helps when you're working with one of the premier guards in all of football.

"I don't think you need to be a football scholar to know that there are a lot of things that go into the last two outings."

Right tackle Donald Penn (groin) already was on injured reserve, and another promising rookie, Brandon Parker, has replaced him with a few ups-and-downs, while Jon Feliciano was in for Osemele before also going out because of a rib injury and being replaced by Justin Murray.

While the Raiders love the promise of rookies Miller and Parker, they didn't expect both to be starting this soon.

In addition, Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson also were playing through injuries, so it's no wonder Carr took six sacks (plus two that were nullified by penalties) against the Seahawks, in addition to being pressured and knocked down on several other plays.

Seattle's front four might be good, but we're not talking the Fearsome Foursome here.

A week earlier, the Raiders' offensive line gave up three sacks, a quarterback hit and 13 hurries in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Carr was sacked 16 times in 2016 and 20 times in 2017, but he's been sacked 17 times already through only six games in 2018.

"I would say it was obvious (the injuries) affected (Carr's) ability to drop back and look around and throw the ball," Gruden said. "We've got to block better than that. We've got to play better than that. That certainly had an impact. No doubt."

Hopefully, Carr will look around the huddle this week against the Colts and see five reasonably healthy offensive linemen ready to protect him as the Raiders try to make a U-turn after a 1-5 start.

Of course, now there are some different circumstances, because two of Carr's primary weapons, wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back Marshawn Lynch, won't be there.

Even if the line is back on track, and Carr somehow regains his 2016 form, it seems to be too late for this season.

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