Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Young Oakland O-lineman has competition
By Bill Williamson
Reggie McKenzie’s first draft pick in Oakland is facing some spring competition.
The Bay Area News Group reported that Lucas Nix was working ahead of Tony Bergstrom at left guard Tuesday at the Raiders’ organized team activities (OTAs). Of course, it is early, and I’d expect both to compete through the summer at the spot previously occupied by Cooper Carlisle, who has since been released.
That said, it has to be a bit disappointing that Bergstrom, a third-round pick in 2012, is not taking the early lead. Nix was an undrafted free agent signing last year out of Pittsburgh.
The Raiders drafted Bergstrom as a fit for the zone-blocking scheme Oakland used on offense last season -- an unsuccessful approach the team has since scrapped in favor of a more traditional power-blocking scheme. In February, I asked McKenzie, who took over as general manager in 2012, if he was confident Bergstrom could be part of the future. He was firm in his belief that Bergstrom could indeed fit in the new scheme.
Bergstrom failed to make to a push for major playing time as a rookie. Now it appears he will have to fight Nix moving forward.
In another interesting Oakland OTA note, second-year player Christo Bilukidi and free-agent pickup Vance Walker were working with the first unit at defensive tackle. Bilukidi showed flashes as a rookie late in the season. Walker was a productive situational player in Atlanta.
As at many positions in Oakland, the Raiders want to see some players take the next step and grab a lead role at defensive tackle. While it is early, Bilukidi and Walker are getting the chance to show they deserve to start.
In other AFC West notes:
Peyton Manning is enjoying this offseason much more than last, when he was recovering from four neck surgeries and adjusting to life in Denver.
Former No. 3 overall pick Tyson Jackson is impressing the new Kansas City brass at defensive end.
Some bookkeeping reminders: Oakland gets $8 million in salary-cap relief for the Michael Huff cut and San Diego gets $4.5 million relief after cutting Jared Gaither on Saturday. Both teams will primarily use the money to sign draft picks.