Gurode learning new tricks at center

October, 10, 2013
10/10/13
8:00
AM ET
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.”

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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