The Oakland Raiders hit the field at their Napa Valley Training complex for their 15th training camp practice, presented by California National Guard, Wednesday morning. Head Coach Dennis Allen spoke to the media after practice and delivered bad news regarding starting LT Jared Veldheer.
“Jared Veldheer, he’s got a torn tricep, we’re going to do the surgery on Jared Veldheer. He’ll be a candidate for [Injured Reserve/Designated for Return],” Coach Allen said. “It’s a disappointment, it’s a disappointment for all of us. We’re going to play 16 games this year, the mentality in the NFL and the teams that are able to push through those things mentally, those are the teams that have success. Everybody’s got injuries. That’s one we’re going to have to deal with.”
T Alex Barron, who joined the Raiders March 26, has been tapped to move into Veldheer’s spot.
“Alex Barron will go in at left tackle to start off with,” Coach Allen added. “Anytime somebody goes down, it’s an opportunity for somebody else. It’ll be a great opportunity for him and we’ll see what he does with it.”
Barron was selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Florida State by the St. Louis Rams. He has played in 87 games with 75 starts.
“First and foremost, it’s tough when you get an injury; I talked to [Veldheer]. Unfortunately, he had been doing good and having good practices. Everybody was gelling as an offensive live,” Barron said. “When you got one guy go down, it’s tough on the unit, tough on the team, but everybody has to step it up all around, myself included. We have to bring it together and become even tighter. “
Barron says that although he and his teammates feel bad and are disappointed for Veldheer, he sees this as his opportunity to step up.
“Our prayers are with him and hope for a speedy recovery,” Barron said. “Every day I am just out here trying to hone in on the technique, hone in on the things I need to work on to become a better player overall. Of course it’s an opportunity. First and foremost, it’s an opportunity to be here period. It’s another opportunity to go up on the chart and help the team the best I can.”
QB Matt Flynn , a right-handed quarterback who relies on the left tackle to protect his blind side, says, “He’s tough to lose, but we have to keep going forward. Guys behind him have to step up and the mark of a good team is when one person goes down, someone steps in and you don’t notice it. So we’re going to try to get that done. The good thing is we have time right now. We’ve got time to get someone settled in and start building that chemistry with the right guard, center, and everything.”
T Khalif Barnes, who mans the opposite tackle spot, added, “It’s a real big blow. Jared Veldheer is a big part of our line. He’s a good guy. He comes to work every day, never hear him complaining, just goes in tries to get his job done. He just tries to perfect his craft every day before and after practice. He’s a good part of our team, good leader of our team, and it just sucks for him. I know what he’s going through.”
Third-year center Stefen Wisniewski says that despite the setback, the Raiders have time to work Barron in at the left tackle spot. “It’s a little different because some things kind of get to the point where they’re understood between two guys and you don’t really need a lot of communication and then when you got a new guy you kind of need to communicate a little more,” Wisniewski said. “That’s tough because you have to start from square one a little bit with new guys. We have a little bit of time here with new guys to get some work in. We certainly have to hurry because the season is getting closer.”
The Raiders will have a light practice tomorrow in Napa before heading to the Oakland Airport for the flight to New Orleans. The Raiders take on the Saints in preseason action Friday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Flynn, who played his college football at LSU, is looking forward to the trip. “I always look forward to going to Louisiana. It’s kind of my home in the off-season so probably I will have a lot of friends there,” Flynn said.
This will be the first time the Raiders have ever played the Saints in New Orleans in the preseason.
Tags: Alex Barron, Dallas Cowboys, Football, Head Coach Dennis Allen, Jared Veldheer, Khalif Barnes, Matt Flynn, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Preseason, Training Camp
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