AFC West: Alex Barron

Raiders add more O-line depth

September, 2, 2013
The Oakland Raiders continue to try to improve a weak offensive line.

The team announced it has signed veteran tackle Tony Pashos. The team cut Alex Barron to make room for Pashos. Barron struggled in the preseason.

Pashos, an 11-year veteran, was cut by Washington on Saturday. He didn't play last year. Pashos is being brought in for depth purposes.

The right tackle is currently the only backup tackle on the roster. Pashos does bring experience, starting 67 games in his career. Oakland also added Antoine McClain off waivers from Baltimore on Sunday as it tries to improve a thin unit.

Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Sio Moore is back at practice and should play at Indianapolis on Sunday. However, tight end David Ausberry is still out with a shoulder injury. His status for the opener is murky.

Evening AFC West notes

August, 21, 2013
Oakland rookie running back Latavius Murray had minor ankle surgery Tuesday. His timetable to return is unclear.
  • San Diego gave quarterback Philip Rivers his first rest day of camp Wednesday. Safety Brandon Taylor and running back Danny Woodhead are on pace to play Saturday at Arizona for the first time this preseason.
  • Oakland defensive tackle Vance Walker will play against Chicago on Friday. Defensive tackle Pat Sims and offensive tackle Menelik Watson, who like Walker returned to work this week, won’t play in the game. Safety Tyvon Branch has been out this week with a ribs injury and he likely won’t play Friday.
  • Oakland coach Dennis Allen said Alex Barron is expected to start. Barron, for now, is Oakland’s left tackle with Jared Veldheer out for about three months with a triceps injury. Barron did not play well last week in New Orleans.
  • Free-agent offensive lineman Jason Spitz reportedly visited the Raiders this week. If signed, it’d be for depth purposes.
The Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers will enter the 2013 season with among the worst left tackle situations in the NFL.

According to the voters in our AFC West poll, the Raiders’ situation is worse than the Chargers’ at the position. We asked readers to vote on which team has it worse at left tackle entering the season. As of 6 p.m. ET Wednesday, 64 percent of the votes believe Oakland’s situation is worse, while 36 percent voted for San Diego.

The Raiders have issues because standout Jared Veldheer is expected to miss at least half the season with a triceps injury. Oakland currently has Alex Barron at the spot. He didn’t play in the NFL last year and he struggled in New Orleans on Friday. Oakland could look for other options at the spot, but there are currently no established left tackles on the roster.

Meanwhile, San Diego was unable to find a clear answer at the position in free agency or in the draft. They have King Dunlap and Max Starks, both signed in the offseason, competing. Dunlap is likely winning the battle. The Chargers used Mike Harris -- who started at left tackle as an undrafted rookie last year -- in practice during the weekend.

I can see why Oakland received the most votes because it seems like it’s in a tougher spot to start the season and that was the question of the poll. The good news for Oakland is Veldheer should play this season. The Chargers have no Veldheer to look forward to returning.

Thanks to everyone who participated.

Poll: Worst left tackle situation

August, 20, 2013
The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have arguably the worst left tackle situation in the NFL heading into the season.


What team is headed into the season with the worse situation at left tackle?


Discuss (Total votes: 5,029)

The Chargers’ issues have been a reality all offseason. San Diego was unable to find a clear answer at the position in free agency or in the draft. They have King Dunlap and Max Starks, both signed in the offseason, competing. Dunlap is likely winning the battle. The Chargers used Mike Harris -- who started at left tackle as an undrafted rookie last year -- in practice during the weekend.

In Oakland, the Raiders have issues because standout Jared Veldheer is expected to miss at least half the season with a triceps injury. Oakland currently has Alex Barron at the spot. He didn’t play in the NFL last year and he struggled in New Orleans on Friday.

Oakland could look for other options at the spot, but there are currently no established left tackles on the roster.

Who do you think has it worse going into the season? Please take our poll. We will review the results Wednesday.
When Manti Te'o's foot injury was first disclosed by the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 10, they said he’d be out a week.

Nine days later, the starting rookie inside linebacker is out of the walking boot, but he is not practicing. He is working on the side. That is a good sign, but it is unclear if Te'o will be ready to play Saturday in the team’s third preseason game. He was hurt in the preseason opener and he has not worked since. Because he is a rookie starter, Te’o needs all the preseason work he can get.

Standout defensive end Corey Liuget didn’t practice with a shoulder injury. Receiver Eddie Royal was at the team’s complex Monday. He suffered a bruised lung Saturday and spent the night in the hospital.

In other AFC West notes:
Random thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 28-20 loss at New Orleans on Friday night:

The key for the Raiders this summer is to make progress. Some progress appeared to be made in the preseason opener last week against Dallas. Oakland showed it had some issues, but there were some promising things shown.

There was not a lot of promise shown in the Big Easy.

The Saints toyed with the Raiders. Oakland’s first unit was completely outclassed. The Raiders were manhandled at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball as New Orleans led 17-0 in the first quarter.

While it’s just the preseason, that type of first-unit failure is concerning, especially for a team that has so many question marks. This team has to get it together quickly. But can it?

Oakland was troubled in essentially every phase at New Orleans. Perhaps the biggest issues were a lack of a pass rush and a lack of pass protection. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees shredded Oakland and Raiders starting quarterback Matt Flynn was sacked five times

The offensive line also didn’t open much running room. Tailback Darren McFadden was stuffed as he had 17 yards on five carries. The offense is featuring Alex Barron at left tackle and Andre Gurode at a guard spot. They both didn’t play last year. It is difficult to expect much from these guys if they are going to be starting in the regular season. It is concerning that Tony Bergstrom -- the first pick of the Reggie McKenzie era last year -- can’t get significant playing time on a line in flux.

Backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor showed his problems with consistency. He had his moments last week, but he wasn’t very good at New Orleans. Undrafted rookie quarterback Matt McGloin was so-so as he threw a pick. Fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson didn’t even throw a pass. It will be interesting to see if Wilson can dig himself out of a hole.

Both veteran Chris Kluwe and youngster Marquette King punted well. If King continues to punt well and he practices well, he could take the job. Consistency is his key and he has been responding.

The Raiders didn’t come out of the loss overly healthy. Cornerback Tracy Porter (expected to be the No. 3 cornerback) suffered a groin injury and tight end David Ausberry (who is in the starting mix) suffered a shoulder injury. Coach Dennis Allen said both injuries could be significant.

Among the bright spots for Oakland were rookie receiver Brice Butler, defensive lineman Jack Crawford and defensive back Brandian Ross. They all look like they could be contributors.

There appears to be some clarity in the timeline of Jared Veldheer's recovery from a partially torn triceps’ injury.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Oakland Raiders' talented left tackle has opted to undergo surgery. Schefter reports the recovery time is three months. The Raiders are expected to put Veldheer on the injury reserve with the option of bringing him back.

If all goes well, Veldheer could return for the final seven games of the season. Regardless of the timing of his return, Oakland will be without one of their best players for a significant portion of the season.

The best option for Veldheer is to have the surgery, which will help him completely heal. Plus, having a left tackle try to play through such an injury could be problematic. For now, journeyman Alex Barron will replace Veldheer.

In the video above, ESPN analyst Herm Edwards looks at Oakland’s options, including acquiring a left tackle through a trade. I think that option may be a long shot since Veldheer should return at some point this season, and the team needs to keep all of its resources moving forward.
Earlier Wednesday, we reacted to the Oakland Raiders' announcement that standout left tackle Jared Veldheer would be out for at least half the season with a torn triceps. The team said he could miss the entire season.

Our reaction was that this wasn’t pretty. Veldheer is a potential star, and his current replacement, Alex Barron, didn’t play in the NFL last year. It would be devastating blow.

However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter provides hope. He reported Wednesday evening that Veldheer has only a partially torn triceps and that physicians believe he will be available for most of the season.

While recovery times vary, this could be a one-to-three-month injury. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis and San Francisco defensive end Justin Smith both came back from similar injuries last season.

If Veldheer, a free agent after this season, misses only a few games it would be a huge relief for Oakland. I talked to ESPN analyst Matt Williamson after the initial news broke, and he painted an ugly picture.

“It is a total mess,” Williamson said at the time. “I really liked Veldheer and felt like he was on the cusp of becoming one of the better left tackles in football and clearly one of the Raiders’ few building blocks for the future.”

Suddenly, though, the immediate future looks brighter for Veldheer and the Raiders.
In recent conversations, both Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen expressed hope that this young Raiders’ team would be competitive in 2013 as it begins a rebuilding journey.

However, both men stressed the importance of the team staying healthy. The Raiders are one of the thinnest teams in the NFL. The team has dealt with a load of nagging injuries, but none appeared to be overly threatening to the team’s season.

Until now. The Raiders just lost one of their best players in left tackle Jared Veldheer.

The massive, athletic Veldheer suffered a torn triceps and will be put on the injured reserve. The Raiders are hopeful he could come back in the second half of the season. But Allen did admit Veldheer could be shelved for the entire season.

For now, Alex Barron is the left tackle. Barron, a journeyman who didn’t play in the NFL last year, had been fighting Khalif Barnes for the right tackle job. While Barron has had a nice camp, the prospect of having him be the left tackle can’t be a comforting one in Oakland, especially considering how much talent the team loses with Veldheer’s injury.

The Raiders would like to get second-round pick, Menelik Watson, in the mix. But he has been out for virtually all of camp with a calf injury. He has limited football experience anyway, so he is way behind. It may be some time before he can help. The Raiders are unsettled at guard.

Veldheer, who many scouts thought was becoming an upper-level left tackle, and center Stefen Wisniewski were bright spots on the unit. Losing Veldheer leaves Wisniewski as Oakland’s only upper-level player on the line. Yes, Oakland will scour the waiver wire in the coming weeks. But it will be difficult for this team to find solid starters at this point.

The injury is crushing for Veldheer. He is entering his contract year. Oakland will have a major surplus of salary-cap room next year and Veldheer was considered a candidate to being signed before free agency. That could still be the case, but his value could be complicated by this injury.
" Alex Barron practiced Tuesday at left tackle for the Oakland Raiders in place of Jared Veldheer, who has an arm injury. Barron entered camp as a long shot to make the team, but he has had a good camp and could even start at right tackle. Veldheer is getting an MRI on his triceps. He is one of the Raiders’ better players. They need him to be healthy.

Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston and guard Lucas Nix returned to practice Tuesday afternoon after missing time due to injuries. Cornerback Tracy Porter is not practicing after leaving Monday’s practice early.

" San Diego Chargers rookie receiver Keenan Allen didn’t finish practice as a precaution due to a lingering knee injury. With starting receiver Danario Alexander out for the season and fellow starter Malcom Floyd out until at least Week 1, the Chargers have to do what it takes to keep Allen fresh and healthy.

" Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Andy Studebaker signed with Jacksonville.
The Oakland Raiders’ search for a cornerback is taking the next step.

Denver cornerback Tracy Porter is visiting the Raiders on Wednesday, according to an NFL source. He visited the New Orleans Saints on Monday. Both teams have strong interest in Porter. He is expected to decide his future soon. He left the Saints for Denver last year. He fell out of favor in Denver. Oakland head coach Dennis Allen was Porter’s position coach in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, Dallas cornerback Mike Jenkins is visiting Jacksonville. Oakland reportedly also has interest in Jenkins. Oakland has two starting cornerback openings. It has visited with Terence Newman. He has been expected to decide between the Bengals and the Raiders for several days.

In other AFC West news:

Former Oakland punter Shane Lechler told San Francisco radio station, 95.7 The Game that he was surprised Oakland did not pursue him. He signed with Houston on Friday.

“This was my first time in free agency. To tell you the truth, man it’s nerve-racking,” Lechler told the radio station. “I didn’t know where I was going to go, where I was going to live or where my kids were going to go to school. I wasn’t hearing anything from Oakland. After giving them 13 years, and plus what the Davis family has done for me, I thought I would at least have a conversation with someone there or something before all of this went down. That was the frustrating part of it. I can’t say that I turned a contract down or anything because I was never really offered one. That was frustrating but I understand. Reggie’s running that thing now like he wants to run it and it’s pretty safe to say I don’t believe I was in the plans.”

Lecher, who was making $4 million a season in Oakland, signed a three-year, $5.5 million deal with Houston. Lechler is from Texas. Oakland is expected to give talented, but unproven Marquette King a chance to replace Lechler.
The Oakland Raiders signed tackle Alex Barron, 30. He was a first-round pick by St. Louis in 2005 and he has started 75 games. But he hasn’t played since 2010. He was hurt in 2011 and didn’t make Seattle’s roster last summer.

He is huge at 6-foot-7, 315 pounds, and he can play both right and left tackle. Because of his rust, I’d think he has no guarantee of making the roster.

Barron is the first outside free agent who plays on offense that Oakland has signed this month. The first six outside free agents all play on defense. The lone player Oakland has re-signed is right tackle Khalif Barnes. Barron will be trying to unseat Barnes.