AFC West: Andre Gurode

Double Coverage: Raiders at Cowboys

November, 27, 2013
Romo-RoachAP PhotoTony Romo's Cowboys host Nick Roach and the Raiders in a Thanksgiving Day duel.
IRVING, Texas -- For the second time in five years, the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders meet on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys won the 2009 matchup 24-7 with Tony Romo throwing for 309 yards and two touchdowns and Miles Austin catching seven passes for 145 yards. Since that game Austin has had more yards in a game just twice.'s Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez and Cowboys reporter Todd Archer bring you this week's holiday version of Double Coverage.

Todd Archer: The Cowboys are bad in most areas defensively, but they have given up 200 yards rushing in three games this season. The Raiders' strength, from afar, seems to be their running game. What makes it so good and how has it differed with Terrelle Pryor out?

Paul Gutierrez: Hey, Todd, it's not just Pryor being out, but also Darren McFadden, who has missed three straight games and four overall with a strained right hamstring. He said Monday night he hopes to play after practicing (limited) for the first time since Nov. 1. The run game, though, has not missed a beat with underrated Rashad Jennings picking up the slack. In the past four games, he has run for 413 yards while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. In fact, the running game has been so surprisingly solid without McFadden and Pryor that the play-action pass game has picked up with undrafted rookie Matt McGloin under center.

Speaking of passing games ... no doubt Tony Romo can rack up stats, but has he decided to assume more of a leadership role yet as the QB of America's Team, or is that just not in his makeup?

Archer: He has developed over the years as a leader, but there's no question that this has been "his" team the past three seasons. He is the veteran. He is the guy the Cowboys look to. The guys on this team now don't know of the Romo who burst on the scene in 2006 or had to deal with the Terrell Owens stuff. He's the guy who led the lockout practices and has been the big voice in the room. This year he has been given the added responsibility of being more involved in the game plan. The Cowboys' past two wins have come on last-minute drives led by Romo to beat Minnesota and the New York Giants. I don't think there's anybody questioning his leadership anymore. And if they did, well, the $106 million extension Jerry Jones gave him in the offseason should be more than enough proof to those guys that this is Romo's team.

Let's stick with the quarterback theme. Before the Cowboys lucked into Romo, they ran through a ton of guys after Troy Aikman's departure. Is there any reason to believe McGloin or Pryor can be a solution or do the Raiders need to go after one of these guys in next April's draft?

Gutierrez: Well, the way I put it earlier in the season, before Pryor hit his purported ceiling and sprained his right knee, robbing him of his greatest strength (running) while accentuating his biggest weakness (passing), if Pryor was not the Raiders' Mr. Right, he was their Mr. Right Now. McGloin is a pure quarterback, a pocket passer whom Dennis Allen prefers for what he wants to accomplish offensively. It's hard to give Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie much credit for their evaluation of QBs, though, what with their misses on Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson, not caring much for Pryor early on and then, similar to the Cowboys with Romo, stumbling upon McGloin. But it's hard to see them going all in with the undrafted rookie from Penn State, too. At least hard at the moment. Unless McGloin continues to improve and wins a few games, it would behoove the Raiders to draft another QB if they see one as a can't-miss prospect. I know, I know, they really wanted USC's Matt Barkley but Philadelphia traded in front of them so they traded back and selected Wilson. Oops. There is no doubt, though, that this Raiders regime prefers McGloin as a prototypical QB over the more electric Pryor.

No matter who is under center for Oakland, though, the Raiders' QB is going to have to keep an eye on DeMarcus Ware. Is he rounding back into shape as a dominant pass-rusher, or is he more decoy as he rehabs from his quad strain?

Archer: I think he's still feeling his way through it. The fact that he made it through the Giants game healthy was a plus. He has been dinged up in just about every game with stinger and back strains earlier in the season before the quadriceps injury. We'll see how he fares on a short week, but the defense is a lot better with even the threat of Ware on the field. Jason Hatcher had two sacks against the Giants at least in part because of the attention Ware received. Ware has talked about wanting to make up for lost time. He has five sacks so far, his fewest this late in a season since his rookie year in 2005. Thursday would be a good time to look like the DeMarcus Ware of old.

This game is a homecoming of sorts for guys like Mike Jenkins, Andre Gurode, Kevin Burnett and Tony Sparano, but it's a real homecoming for Dennis Allen. How is he perceived in Oakland and will McKenzie be more patient with him than, say, Al Davis would have been?

Gutierrez: The jury, so to speak, is still out on Allen in the streets of Silver and Blackdom. Of course, when the Raiders win a game, he's the man. When he loses, the fans turn on him and start pining for Jon Gruden ... again. But isn't that the nature of the beast? Even Allen himself said this was a results-oriented business. Of course, he was referring to the quarterback position at the time, but it still applies. Make no mistake about it, Allen is McKenzie's "guy" and he's going to roll with him and have patience with him. The plan coming in was to give Allen at least three years to right this ship and really, the only thing that could damage Allen's chances of lasting another year would be if the team quit on him, like it did last November before playing hard again at the end. Then again, it might not be McKenzie's choice. Owner Mark Davis is a more patient owner than his father and wants McKenzie to handle all football-related decisions. But a year after stating he was fine with just about anything but regression, Davis wants progress. Stagnancy won't cut it, either. So, stay tuned.

Sticking with the coaching theme, is Jason Garrett in Jerry World for the long haul, or was Jerry Jones' support merely the dreaded vote of confidence?

Archer: Jerry has publicly backed Garrett, but he's also been a guy who's said, "Just because I say something, doesn't mean it's true." I do know this: He wants Garrett to be the guy. He desperately wants it to work. I really believe that. He believes in Garrett's approach and how he builds a team. Garrett will provide some blow-back to Jerry but not as much as, say, a Bill Parcells. Garrett knows what makes Jerry work and knows how to work around it to a degree or push Jerry in a certain direction. Honestly, Cowboys fans should want the Garrett deal to work out because it might be the best combination to mitigate the bad parts of Jerry and keep the good parts of Jerry.

Raiders add OL Jack Cornell

November, 9, 2013
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The Oakland Raiders signed offensive lineman Jack Cornell to the active roster off the practice squad Saturday in time for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Defensive lineman Brian Sanford was waived in the corresponding roster move.

The Raiders already announced six players were out for the Giants game, including right tackles Matt McCants (toe) and Tony Pashos (hip), and center/left guard Andre Gurode (quad) is questionable, so Cornell potentially adds depth on the offensive line.

Cornell played in the Raiders’ 27-17 victory over the San Diego on Oct. 6.

Pashos, Gurode doubtful vs. Steelers

October, 25, 2013
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While right tackle Tony Pashos (hip), left guard/center Andre Gurode (quad) and rookie tackle Menelik Watson (calf) did not practice Friday for the Raiders, none of the aforementioned offensive linemen were ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

All three were listed as doubtful, though. Pashos worked on a side field with a trainer.

The likely starting lineup for the Raiders' offensive line: LT Khalif Barnes, LG Lucas Nix, C Stefen Wisniewski, RG Mike Brisiel and RT Matt McCants.

In fact, the only player ruled out was strong safety Tyvon Branch, who has not played since breaking his leg in Week 2. Branch, though, was in the locker room during open access, walking without a boot or a limp. He declined to talk to reporters.

Here's the full injury report for Sunday:

Out: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle)

Doubtful: C/G Andre Gurode (quad), RT Tony Pashos (hip), LT Menelik Watson (calf).

Questionable: LB Kaluka Maiava (hamstring)

Probable: CB Tracy Porter (shoulder), C Stefen Wisniewski (right knee).
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Raiders linebacker Kaluka Maiava (hamstring) was upgraded Thursday as he practiced limited a day after not participating. However, two offensive linemen who were injured in Oakland’s game at Kansas City before the bye missed practice for the second consecutive day.

Center/left guard Andre Gurode (quad) and right tackle Tony Pashos (hip) did not participate, nor did rookie left tackle Menelik Watson (calf).

“The further we go into the week,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said, “the less chance there is for those guys to play. So we’ll have to have a plan in place in case they can’t go.”

Allen added that if Oakland needed depth on the offensive line, the Raiders would sign Jack Cornell off the practice squad.

Center Stefen Wisniewski, though, practiced limited for the second day in a row after missing time since spraining his right knee against Washington on Sept. 29. He remains on track to start against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

“It’s huge, hard to describe,” Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said of the potential impact Wisniewski returning would have on the offense. “To me, he’s such an important part of what’s going on up front and making sure everyone’s in the right place.

“Wiz is just an experienced guy and he’s very comfortable in the scheme that we brought in … he’s a calming factor to me, for everybody up front, and really for the quarterback as well.”

Following, then, is the Raiders’ injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), C/G Andre Gurode (quad), RT Tony Pashos (hip), LT Menelik Watson (calf).

Limited practice: LB Kaluka Maiava (hamstring), CB Tracy Porter (shoulder), Stefen Wisniewski (right knee).
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Tony Sparano once took over a 1-15 team in Miami and had the Dolphins in the playoffs as an 11-5 division champion the next year.

So yeah, the Raiders assistant head coach, who is also Oakland’s offensive line coach, knows all about challenges. But his current situation with the Raiders’ banged-up O-line is a different animal. A wounded one, so to speak.

“This has been the most moving pieces ... that I’ve been around,” Sparano said Wednesday.

“With the amount of injuries and, at times, the way that they’ve happened, it’s been a challenge, but it’s not an excuse. There’s no excuse. From our end, we talk about two things -- we make progress, not excuses, and that’s what we’re doing.”

[+] EnlargeTony Sparano
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsRaiders assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano has had to cope with a rash of injuries to his O-line.
Could you blame Sparano, though, if he at least quietly asked the football gods for a do-over?

It began in training camp when left tackle Jared Veldheer underwent surgery on his left triceps. Then guard Tony Bergstrom, the first pick of the Reggie McKenzie/Dennis Allen regime, was lost for the season with a lisfranc injury to his right foot.

“It just trickles down,” Sparano said. “The most that I’ve seen in a long time.”

Guard Lucas Nix dealt with an ankle sprain and Stefen Wisniewski missed two games with a sprained right knee, though he practiced Wednesday for the first time since injuring it on Sept. 29 against Washington. Right tackle Tony Pashos, who was signed just before the season opener, has dealt with groin and hip issues and did not practice Wednesday, nor did backup center/left guard Andre Gurode, who is nursing a quad injury.

Rookie second-round draft pick Menelik Watson has been sidelined with calf problems, then knee problems, and then calf problems again. Coach Dennis Allen surmised the Raiders have had Watson for maybe 10 practices total.

“We have not played with the same unit for two weeks in a row since the third quarter of the Jacksonville game,” Sparano said. And that was in Week 2.

It’s all made for a couple of baptisms by fire for rookie guard Lamar Mady and first-year tackle Matt McCants.

“It doesn’t really matter who’s up front because I believe in all of them,” Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. “Some guys may be a little more talented, yes, but I believe in all those guys, and I think they’re going to show this Sunday.”

If nothing else, the extended playing time for Mady and McCants will only help them down the road, even if the 10 sacks the Raiders surrendered in Kansas City was reduced to nine following a league review.

The versatility of his linemen, Sparano said, has been a saving grace. Gurode has the ability to play left guard and center. Brisiel was able to move from right guard to center. Khalif Barnes moved from right tackle to left tackle, and Mady took practice snaps at center.

Doing it all on a game-changing (for the positive) level? Now that’s a different story.

Still, Sparano said he told the linemen in camp that whoever made that initial 53-man roster would see playing time in games. That’s just the nature of the beast.

This beast, though, has been untamed, what with the rash of injuries.

“There’s body blows that go on in our league every single day,” Sparano said. “We just happen to be catching a few body blows right now at the wrong time, and you’ve got to be able to overcome them.

“People that can overcome them the best and the fastest will end up being in the mix at the end of this.”
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders’ offensive line received a boost Wednesday as center Stefen Wisniewski returned to practice for the first time since he sprained his right knee against Washington on Sept. 29.

Wisniewski practiced in a limited fashion, but coach Dennis Allen was optimistic Wisniewski could play Sunday against Pittsburgh and give the beleaguered O-line a lift, both physically and mentally.

“I think that’s huge,” Allen said. “I think what he means to our offensive line, the type of player he is, his intelligence level, helps us with a lot of the communication, not only in protective schemes, but also in the run game.

“Communication is going to be critical against this defense and making sure we can identify where the rushers are coming from. Wiz has done a great job of that for us all year long, so it’s good to have him back out there.”

Wisniewski said he was initially told his injury would be a three-to-four-week deal, so three weeks later, he’s right on schedule. Even if sitting by and watching the line crumble was tough.

“It hurts,” he said. “That San Diego game was a big-time game, nighttime game, those are really fun ones. And that Chief game, I was sitting on my couch, watching on TV, that hurts. So I’m really excited I’ve got a good chance to be back.”

Meanwhile, right tackle Tony Pashos (hip) worked with a trainer on a side field, though center/left guard Andre Gurode (quadriceps) and left tackle Menelik Watson (calf) were nowhere to be seen.

Here is the Raiders’ full injury report for Wednesday:

Did not participate: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), C/G Andre Gurode (quad), LB Kaluka Maiava (hamstring), RT Tony Pashos (hip), LT Menelik Watson (calf).

Limited practice: CB Tracy Porter (shoulder), C Stefen Wisniewski (right knee).
A weekly examination of the Raiders' Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 26 | Power Ranking since 2002

There is no truth to the rumor that the Raiders’ bye week was favored over the Raiders ... even if Oakland fell two spots in our weekly Power Rankings without playing a game. Such is life for a team that could just as easily be 4-2 or even 5-1 rather than 2-4 and preparing to play host to a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has seemingly righted itself with two straight victories.

This much is true, though: Oakland has not won its first game coming out of a bye since 2002, when the Raiders pummeled Tennessee 52-25 en route to the Super Bowl. Since then? The Raiders have gone 0-10 and lost by an average score of 27-14 in post-bye regular-season games.

Talk about your hangovers. Who comes close to such futility? Per Elias Sports Bureau, the Seahawks are 3-7, while the Bengals, 49ers and Rams are all 3-6-1 in that same time frame coming off a bye.

The Raiders are also hinging many hopes on the health of their offensive line, especially centers Stefen Wisniewski and Andre Gurode and right tackle Tony Pashos. Looking for a positive? Pittsburgh has not won in Oakland since 1995 -- the Steelers lost in the East Bay in 2006 and 2012.

Whither the Raiders' O-line?

October, 21, 2013
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- No unit on the Oakland Raiders' roster needed the rest and relaxation afforded by the bye week more than the offensive line.

Consider that center Stefen Wisniewski (knee), center/left guard Andre Gurode (knee), right tackle Tony Pashos (groin/hip) and left tackle Menelik Watson (calf) were all either out before or knocked out during Oakland's loss at the Kansas City Chiefs last week. And that's not taking into account left tackle Jared Veldheer, who continues to rehab from his left triceps surgery in training camp.

“It was really good,” said left tackle Khalif Barnes, who had to make the switch from the right side at the dawn of the season with the injuries to Veldheer and Watson.

“We needed to get some bodies rested and some guys healed up ... it was a good week for us to sit back and try to get our bodies back, and things of that nature.

“I just know guys are in there busting their tails trying to get healthy and trying to get back. I'm not really sure. I just go by whenever they get back out there.”

In Monday's practice, Wisniewski was working with a trainer on a side field while Gurode, Pashos and Watson were nowhere to be found (Gurode, though, was later walking through the locker room without a noticeable limp).

As such, the first-string makeshift offensive line Monday morning was the unit that finished the 24-7 loss to the Chiefs: LT Barnes, LG Lucas Nix, C Mike Brisiel, RG Lamar Mady, RT Matt McCants.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen said he would not speak about injuries until later in the week.

“I'm hopeful we'll get some guys back (on the offensive line),” he said, “but we'll know more on Wednesday.”

Allen also insisted he was fine starting that same line against Pittsburgh.

“You look at the best football teams in the National Football League and they've got depth,” he said. “They've got guys that can go in, when called upon, and they can go in and play well. So the fact that we've had a lot of guys get some experience and get some playing time will help us down the road.”

The Raiders are hoping that guys like Mady and McCants and, perhaps, re-signed practice squad offensive lineman Jason Foster, add such depth.

Coming into camp, the projected offensive line was supposed to look something like this: LT Veldheer, LG Tony Bergstrom (IR and rehabbing LisFranc surgery on foot), C Wisniewski, RG Brisiel, RT Barnes.


“We've kind of been doing it all year long with guys rotating and playing different spots but it's real tough when you do it at the center position,” Barnes said. “Especially when you have both centers go down. It's tough because you don't really work with that center on different types of timings, silent counts. But Mike [Brisiel] went in there and did a great job for [being] thrown into the fire.

“We've been trained … that one guy goes down, the next guy steps up. That stuff happens in the league every week to every team so it ain't just us. When it happens, you have to be able to step up and get it done.”
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Raiders’ bye week came a mere four weeks into the 2012 season after the team started 1-3 in Dennis Allen’s first season as a head coach at any level.

Before the Raiders were released for their mandatory days off, Allen rode them pretty hard during two practices.

What about this season, after six weeks, a 2-4 record and just as many what-ifs?

“We handled it a little bit differently this year,” Allen said Tuesday. “I just felt like with where we’re at as a football team, especially with the health of the football team, that I thought it was important for the veteran players to get some time to really take care of their bodies and get themselves back healthy and ready to go for next week.”

[+] EnlargeDennis Allen
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez"I thought it was important for the veteran players to get some time to really take care of their bodies," Dennis Allen said.
Meaning, the “practice” Tuesday morning was more of a glorified workout in that only players with four years or less of NFL experience were on the field for seven-on-seven drills, while the veterans used the time to rehab inside the building.

And unlike previous years, everyone was in the building as no players left early for home. Indeed, the veteran leadership on this team seems different than in recent years.

Even in terms of accepting growing pains.

“Every team does it every year,” center Andre Gurode said. “Every team has had a game where they had a play they wish they had back. It’s just something that you have to keep improving on.”

The offensive line -- which was already down left tackles Jared Veldheer and rookie Menelik Watson and center Stefen Wisniewski -- lost Gurode and right tackle Tony Pashos in Kansas City on Sunday.

Having four days off starting Thursday and then another week of preparation before consecutive home games against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia should help with the bumps and bruises.

The coaches, meanwhile will get the weekend off.

And somewhere in there, Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie will meet to discuss potential roster additions and thus, subtractions. Depending upon health, the Raiders might need another offensive lineman, or they could sign another quarterback a week after working out veterans David Carr, Pat White and Trent Edwards.

“To get this bye, to get a chance to get healthy and to come back after the bye and play the first two games at home will be critical for us,” Allen said. “We’ve got to come out after the bye and we’ve got to play well and we’ve got to win some football games.

“The thing about this football team is we’ve given ourselves opportunities to win games ... we’ve got to continue to put ourselves in those types of positions. And the more we do that, the more experience we get with that, the better we’re going to react to those situations and we’ll begin to win some of these games and come out on the plus side instead of having to come back and make some adjustments after tough losses.”
KANSAS CITY -- The Oakland Raiders' battered offensive line has taken another blow as right tackle Tony Pashos, who missed last week’s game with a groin injury, left the game against Kansas City at halftime with the same issue.

His return was doubtful and he was replaced by Matt McCants, Oakland’s last active offensive lineman.

Earlier, right guard Mike Brisiel moved over to center to replace Andre Gurode, who suffered a left knee injury. Gurode, who is now in street clothes on the sideline, will not return to the game.

Gurode was starting at center for the second week in a row for the injured Stefen Wisniewski, who has a sprained right knee.

Lamar Mady was at right guard.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Raiders center Andre Gurode has left Oakland’s game against Kansas City in the second quarter with a left knee injury. His return is questionable.

Gurode is starting in place of the injured Stefen Wisniewski, who has a sprained right knee, for the second straight game.

Right guard Mike Brisiel has moved to center and Lamar Mady is now at right guard.

The Raiders were leading the Chiefs, 7-0, after a 39-yard touchdown catch and run by Denarius Moore.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Officially, Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden, who missed last week’s game with a strained hamstring, is listed as questionable to play against Kansas City.

There is no question he’s had success against the Chiefs in the past and would seemingly increase Oakland’s chances at extending its win streak at Arrowhead Stadium to seven if he plays. But if McFadden, who has more than half of his 215 yards this season on four long runs against Jacksonville, is able to go against the Chiefs, who are giving up 5.3 yards per carry, he’ll do it without center Stefen Wisniewski.

Wisniewski will miss his second straight game with a right knee sprain. Veteran Andre Gurode will start at center.

But as far as McFadden is concerned, it sounds like his playing will be a game-time decision.

“I feel pretty good,” he told reporters Friday. “I’m just looking forward to whatever the decision the coaches and trainers have to make if we want to roll with it.”

McFadden rushed for at least 100 yards in both games against Kansas City last season. That would mean next to nothing this weekend, though.

“For us, you have to go out there and play football,” he said. “It’s a different game every time you step out there on Sunday, so you have to be ready to play football. You can’t just look at it like this is what I did in the past. You have to go out there and do it that Sunday.”

Said Raiders coach Dennis Allen: “I watched him all week in practice. I like where he’s at. I feel good about where he’s at. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. But I think every day he’s gotten a little bit better.”

Following, then, is the Raiders’ status report Sunday’s game at Kansas City:

Out: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), LT Menelik Watson (calf), C Stefen Wisniewski (right knee)

Questionable: RB Rashad Jennings (hamstring), LB Kaluka Maiava (hamstring), RB Darren McFadden (hamstring), DT Stacy McGee (shoulder), RT Tony Pashos (groin)

Probable: FB Marcel Reece (left knee)

Darren McFadden, Jennings practicing

October, 10, 2013
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While the Raiders’ running game appears to be getting healthier -- tailbacks Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings were both practicing Thursday -- the guys responsible for clearing running lanes were still in flux as center Stefen Wisniewski was out, as was rookie tackle Menelik Watson.

Wisniewski, who missed last week’s game with a sprained right knee, was replaced by veteran Andre Gurode, who had moved over from left guard. Lucas Nix, meanwhile, was back at left guard and Tony Pashos, who missed the San Diego game with a groin issue, was back at right tackle.

Watson had knee surgery before the season opener and started practicing last week, but was felled this time by a calf issue.

Gurode learning new tricks at center

October, 10, 2013
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Andre Gurode is a five-time Pro Bowl center and two-time All-Pro. So logic would dictate there would not be a drop off at center for the Raiders with Stefen Wisniewski, still hobbled by a sprained right knee, and Gurode snapping the ball.

And really, there was not in Oakland’s 27-17 win over San Diego on Sunday, even if the last time Gurode played center on a regular basis was in 2010 for the Dallas Cowboys.

So was it simply a matter of the 34-year-old Gurode getting back on the figurative bicycle after starting at left guard the previous two weeks?

“He’s never been a great bike rider,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen joked of the 6-feet-4, 320-pounder. “Listen, it’s different, you go from left guard to center and there’s a little bit more responsibility going over to center. But, he’s played that position at a high level for a long time in this league, and he really did a good job in the game, and I think the more he plays in there the better he’s going to be.

“He’s got a tough challenge, but I would look for more improvement out of him this week.”

Sounds like Allen is preparing to be without Wisniewski for a second straight game.

Well, Wisniewski missed practice Wednesday and the Raiders have a bye after Sunday’s game in Kansas City. The Raiders could do worse than have a five-time Pro Bowler at center, even if he did not join the team until just before training camp.

“One of the things that our coaches always tell us is that you have to be prepared because you’re always one play away, so you have to be prepared for multiple positions,” Gurode said. “It has been a challenge. But the guys around me have made it very easy.

“I’m just picking their brains and getting back into that mode of playing the center position.”

He did have a false-start penalty on the Raiders’ second play of the game, backing Oakland up to its own 7-yard line. But he also recovered a Terrelle Pryor fumble on the Raiders’ 11-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

Gurode was a second-round pick of the Cowboys, No. 37 overall, in 2002 out of Colorado. He spent the first nine years of his career in Dallas before playing 13 games, five starts, at left guard for Baltimore in 2011. Gurode was active for two weeks with Chicago last season but did not play.

So yeah, being thrust into the center position for Oakland in Week 5 was a culture shock, especially with how many times he had to snap the ball back to Pryor in the pistol.

“That’s’ something that’s different,” Gurode said with a laugh. “They’ve usually been under center or just shotgun or two-minute situations, or something. It is different, but the guys, I continue to work with the guys and they continue to work with me. It’s a work in progress so we’re getting better.”

Allen agreed.

“He was pretty decent at it, you know? He did a good job,” Allen said. “Obviously, a lot of our offense runs out of the shotgun or pistol formation, whatever it may be. He’s got a lot of work at it, it’s not like he hasn’t done it. He’s gotten a lot of work out of it during practice because he’s been our backup all along.

“He’ll go in and do a good job. He’ll anchor the offensive line.”
With their offensive line wracked by injuries and ensuing questions, the Raiders on Saturday signed offensive lineman Jack Cornell to the active roster off the practice squad and waived guard Antoine McClain in the corresponding roster move.

Center Stefen Wisniewski (right knee) is doubtful to play for Oakland Sunday night against San Diego while right tackle Tony Pashos (groin) is questionable, as is rookie tackle Menelik Watson, who just finished his first week of practice after undergoing knee surgery prior to the season opener. Watson was seeing reps at right tackle in practice Friday after moving to left tackle in the wake of Jared Veldheer’s triceps surgery late in training camp.

The 6-feet-6, 320-pound Cornell, who spent the 2012 season on Baltimore’s practice squad as an undrafted rookie free agent, is more of a tackle than a guard.

If Wisniewski cannot play against the Chargers, Andre Gurode will start at center and either Lamar Mady or former starter Lucas Nix, who is questionable with an ankle injury, will go at left guard for Oakland.