Friday, July 29, 2011
Raiders' offensive line gets huge addition
By Bill Williamson
It’s been a wild Friday evening involving the Raiders.
They lost superstar cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to the Eagles and they have, apparently, shored up their offensive line by adding Baltimore tackle Jared Gaither. It had been reported earlier, but Gaither’s agent denied it. Yet, The Associated Press is now reporting the team announced the agreement.
It’s a solid move by the Raiders. Prior to the draft, coach Hue Jackson –- who coached Gaither in Baltimore -- said improving the line was the team’s biggest priority. There’s no doubt it is the team’s weak spot.
Oakland has done a nice job addressing it. It drafted starting center Stefen Wisniewski in the second round and added LSU tackle Joe Barskdale in the third round.
But with Gaither apparently coming in, the starting tackles will be Gaither and second-year player Jared Veldheer. The two Jareds are mammoth men. Gaither is 6-foot-9, 340 pounds and Veldheer is 6-8, 340. The Raiders would dominate the winter basketball circuit.
Gaither is experienced at left tackle, while Veldheer finished last season at the spot. One of the two will move to the right side. Both players have a chance to grow into very good players.
Gaither is known as a rising talent at the position, although some scouts believe he has played a little too stiff. He missed all of last season with a back injury but is healthy now. If he can stay on the field, Veldheer can continue to mature and Wisniewski can catch on quickly, then the Raiders’ offensive line woes may be a thing of the past.
UPDATE: Jackson said Gaither is on a free-agent visit and he has not signed yet. Yet, another twist.