Raiders offensive line crumbles after injury plague
Share This Post

KANSAS CITY -- The Raiders offensive line has been plagued by injury since training camp. They lost Jared Veldheer and Menelik Watson for extended time. Tony Bergstrom was sent to injured reserve. They lost Tony Pashos for a game and Stefen Wisniewski for at least two.

Linemen played out of position and filled in admirably on a line that got by with grit. On Sunday afternoon, the line lost a war of attrition. Injury volume overwhelmed what little depth remained during a 24-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Andre Gurode left with a knee injury that forced Mike Brisiel to play center for the fist time in his NFL career.

Rookie Lamar Mady stepped in at right guard. Pashos re-aggravated a groin injury, leaving Matt McCants to play right tackle. That left Khalif Barnes as the only lineman with more than a season’s experience at his position.

It made for disastrous results. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was sacked 10 times and he was hit 14 others.

“We have to be there as a foundation for him, and right now as an O-line we are scrambling for bodies,” Brisiel said. “Injuries aren’t and will never be an excuse . We just didn’t get it done.”

The offense was immobile in the second half especially, when the Chiefs took the lead and expanded it. At times, they were better going backward. The Raiders had six pre-snap penalties, including three false starts – they were whistled for four -- three delays, and wasted a pair of timeouts avoiding two more.

“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Barnes said. “We couldn’t ever get in a good groove. We had guys go down, but we’ll never use that as an excuse. We made mistakes and dug ourselves a hole.”

The offensive line struggled mightily. That was clear to the untrained eye, but no Raider sandbagged the front five.

“We had two guys who came in and were put in a tough situation,” Pryor said. “I have respect and appreciate the simple fact that guys are out there fighting.”

Raiders coach Dennis Allen conceded that offensive line struggles were a factor in the outcome. So was the crowd, which set a world record for the loudest sports venue and played a part in pre-snap mishaps.

Offensive struggles came to a head in the fourth quarter, when a holding call, a delay of game and two sacks set up 3rd-and-48 from the Oakland 12. Marquette King didn’t even reach the first-down marker with his punt.

Personnel were clearly a factor. Brisiel played center for the first time in an NFL game.

“The last time was in 2007,” Brisiel said, “When I was in NFL Europe.”

Mady played his first extended stretch. McCants started last week, but has played sparingly as a pro. These guys played full-time against the NFL's best pass rush. Tough sledding for an overmatched front.

The line limps into the bye on its last leg, without guaranteed reinforcement. Veldheer is eligible to practice next week and play after Week 8, but he’s not ready for such activity. Watson re-aggravated a calf injury that kept him out most of training camp and has an uncertain timetable to return. The extent of Gurode’s injury – he’s also the backup guard – remains unknown. The Raiders hope Wisniewski can return after the bye, because they missed him Sunday more than ever.

“There are a lot of guys we really need back,” Brisiel said. “I think this should give us a chance to recoup from these injuries.”