Raiders' O-line a pleasant surprise

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
9:13
PM ET
ALAMEDA, Calif. – Khalif Barnes let out with a spirited, if somewhat off-key, rendition of “Reunited” in the Raiders' locker room Wednesday. And yes, he felt so good.

Why not? With so much shuffling and duct-tape work on Oakland’s offensive line last week, what was supposed to be a glaring weakness for the Raiders in their season opener at Indianapolis actually turned out to be a strength.

[+] EnlargeRaiders offensive line protects Terrelle Pryor
AP Photo/AJ MastThe Raiders had to do some shuffling on the offensive line, but the group did well to protect quarterback Terrelle Pryor from the Colts.
This after Barnes made the move from right tackle to left tackle and Tony Pashos, signed the Monday before, started at right tackle. The moves were necessitated with injuries to starting left tackle Jared Veldheer and his replacement, rookie Menelik Watson.

Go ahead, call Barnes and Pashos the Raiders’ Peaches and Herb. Just don’t try to assign specific labels. Because really, it’s a team effort being the last line of defense on either side. And no, Barnes was not shocked at how relatively well the O-line protected Terrelle Pryor.

“No, not surprised,” he said. “It’s the next-man mentality. Plus, me and Tony, we’ve done that before. We did that in Jacksonville ... against the same guys, but with [Dwight] Freeney. They had two scoops of trouble before – [Robert] Mathis and Freeney. They’re just dogs at pass-rushing.

“When you’ve been in that situation before, you kind of know how to handle adversity.”

Sure, Pryor’s ability to extend plays with his scrambling and a game plan that called mostly for quick-strike passing helped the O-line. But keep in mind, the last time Barnes and Pashos worked together was in 2008 -- for the Jaguars, who just so happen to be this weekend’s opponent.

Cue Peaches … or Herb. Whoever. Because according to Pro Football Focus, Pashos did not allow a single pressure on Pryor, who became just the seventh quarterback since the 1970 merger to pass for at least 200 yards and rush for 100 in the same game.

“We could have done some things better, too,” Pashos said. “Everybody came away from that game thinking so.

“The coaches, [offensive-line coach] Tony Sparano, they put in overtime to get us ready. It’s really a testament to them. People were talking it was all the way up to right before the game … It’s all hands on deck in those situations.”

Especially when Pryor is scrambling around, tiring out not only the defense but, presumably, his own linemen.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t matter who’s back there, you can’t have your clock in your head when you’re blocking a guy. You’ve got to block a guy until you hear a whistle.

“Now, do you have to be a little more conscious of where a guy might go? Maybe. But it all goes back to finishing blocks and not having a time clock in your head.”

Barnes’ partner agreed.

“I think in general, an O-lineman doesn’t have an egg timer on his plays,” Pashos said. “You just listen for whistles or crowd noise, really. You’ve got to stay on your guy. If those guys are making plays, you’ve got to do your job.”

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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