Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable sat down with Greg Papa on Chronicle Live on Tuesday. They discussed many things in their meeting, but the thing that stuck out the most to me was the discussion about the Raiders offensive line.
Papa asked, "What's the trouble spot this year? Is there any area where you think, personnel wise, ‘Man, we gotta get better there?'"
"I know this, we've got to have a level of consistency in the offensive line that allows us to be as good as we can be," responded the coach.
Cable was not trying to say that the Raiders are weak on the offensive line, but he was saying that the 2009 line was inconsistent. There were injury issues at some positions, guys who didn't play at a high level in some places, and just an overall lack of quality in the play with that line.
Many observers feel the same way. The concern emanating from Raider Nation with the line goes from the idea that the team needs to bring in another body like a Flozell Adams to the idea that the team made a mistake by not getting a first round tackle in the draft.
"We've upgraded in a lot of areas, we've upgraded as a football team as far as how you become a team, but if you just want to put your hand on something and say, ‘Boy, that's got to grow,' it's the level of consistency in the offensive line. That has to change from a year ago," says Cable.
The current projected starting offensive line is: LT-Mario Henderson, LG-Robert Gallery, C-Samson Satele, RG-Cooper Carlisle, and RT-Langston Walker.
"I feel really good about both of our guards. I think they are quality, quality players," said Cable. "I think had Robert not had all those injury issues, he would've stepped into that dominant player position and hopefully he'll get that done this year and he can play every game.
"I want to see a level of consistency at tackle that I think gives us the protection things that we need and the ability to run off tackle in the run game. So, that's the area that I'm probably focused on the most," Cable continued.
Hey, that's what I like to hear. This is where Cable got his start in this league, by building quality offensive lines without the commonly necessary tools and raw materials to do so. Cable is a very good offensive line coach and has consistently produced top ten rushing offenses when he has been able to focus his abilities in that area. Plus, in his own words, it's where his heart is.
"I can't get too far away from it, I mean that's what's in my heart," said Cable. "So, I will continue to be involved in some way, just even if it's to oversee it or to manage it, or just to make sure it's going in the direction it needs to, because we've got to improve there this year."
Last year the multiple injuries to Robert Gallery, who may be the best offensive lineman on the squad, really hurt the team. Cable wants to get Jared Veldheer involved in the offense and is hoping Veldheer will take to the center position this year. Cable said Veldheer is an excellent talent, but he needs to get some more of the mental stuff about his game. The Raiders want to have a big guy in the middle to deal with the twelve opponents on the schedule (including all three teams in their division) who they face this season who run the 3-4 defense.
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