ALAMEDA – With Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer in line to start on Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys and right tackle Tony Pashos playing well, Khalif Barnes made a sacrifice for the greater good.
The career tackle volunteered to move inside and strengthen the line from a foreign position. Barnes has one career start at left guard – against San Diego in 2010 – but started practicing there Tuesday in preparation for the Cowboys game.
Head coach Dennis Allen wouldn’t commit to Barnes playing left guard – he didn’t want to give away the game plan -- although it’s extremely likely Barnes will man that post Thursday.
“We’re looking at doing different things there because of how good we feel about our tackle situation,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “It also says something about how good we feel about Khalif Barnes.”
Barnes started training camp as the presumptive right tackle, but moved to the left side after Veldheer was lost with a partially torn triceps. Pashos and even backup Matt McCants have fared well on the right, so there’s no immediate need for Barnes to take his old spot.
Instead of claiming seniority or demanding his old starting spot, Barnes decided to help strengthen an area of weakness. Lucas Nix has struggled at left guard, and Barnes should provide an upgrade despite inexperience at the position.
He did so understanding that Veldheer might not play a full game and he might have to play guard and tackle in the same game.
“There’s a player who is an unselfish guy and a real team player,” Olson said. “He’s someone that we can count on no matter where he plays. To see him go from right tackle to left tackle and play well was impressive. Then to have him speak up and say he’d play left guard if it would make us better was fantastic. We’re really happy with the way he plays and with what he’s brought to us in a leadership role.”