AFC West: Jared Veldheeer

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.

AFC West mailbag

September, 22, 2010
Mid-week mail call:

Bryce from Tucson, Ariz., wants to know if I think the AFC West is underrated.

Bill Williamson: Interesting question, Bryce. It’s awfully early. But after two weeks, I’d say there is a chance this division could be better than expected. There are only two divisions in the NFL where every team is at least 1-1: the AFC South and the AFC West. So, it’s been a nice start. Considering this division plays the weak NFC West, the victories could add up.

Mark from Reading, Pa., wants to know if I think the Raiders will go after Michael Vick next year.

BW: We have a long way to go. First, let’s see what happens this season between Bruce Gradkowski and Jason Campbell. There is sure to be plenty of drama in Oakland this year without us worrying about next year. But if neither Gradkowski nor Campbell appears like the long-term answer after the season, Oakland will be on the hunt for a quarterback again.

Tony from San Jose wants to know what I think of Oakland rookie offensive lineman Jared Veldheer.

BW: He is definitely an interesting player and has been put on the fast track. The 6-foot-8 Veldheer was forced on the field at center in the season opener before giving way to original starter Samson Satele. Veldheer was made the starter despite the fact that he came from a Division II school and had limited experience at center. It was clear Oakland just wanted to get him on the field. That became clear again in Week 2 when he rotated with Mario Henderson at left tackle. Oakland is doing some unusual things to get Veldheer playing time. It may be a bit strange now, but it should pay off down the road because this is a talented player who is getting valuable experience.