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Thursday, September 5, 2013
Raiders' Barnes readying for role at LT

By Paul Gutierrez

ALAMEDA, Calif. – Khalif Barnes was initially acquired by the Oakland Raiders in 2009 to become their cornerstone left tackle.

Barnes
But an ankle injury suffered in his first training camp scuttled those plans and Barnes took up residence on the right side, where he has played almost exclusively the past four seasons.

Is Barnes now about to move back to his initial projected position on Oakland’s offensive line? Injuries to Jared Veldheer (left triceps) and rookie Menelik Watson (knee) have Barnes slated to start at left tackle in the Raiders’ season opener Sunday at Indianapolis.

“Next man up,” Barnes said Thursday. “I’ve done this position before, been on the bike before. It felt good today.

“The first day, it was a little awkward.”

That was probably just rust. Barnes, Jacksonville’s second-round draft pick in 2005, started 57 of his 60 games with the Jaguars at left tackle.

Watson, meanwhile, tweaked a knee in practice Wednesday and was not able to practice Thursday, hence Barnes moving to the left side and Tony Pashos getting first-team reps at right tackle.

“Injuries occur and you try to put a plan together when those things happen and players have to step up,” said Raiders first-year offensive coordinator Greg Olson. “I think competitive players understand it. Players that play professional football understand that.

“We’ll continue to see how Menelik feels and we’ll put together a plan and we’ll show up on Sunday. ... If Menelik is not ready, I think Khalif Barnes is ready for that challenge. He was optimistic and felt good about it.”

Barnes sounded like a man readying for his fate against the Colts.

“It’s going to be a heck of a matchup going against (Robert) Mathis over there,” Barnes said.