- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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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).
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.”
5hEric D. Williams