The results are in and the Raiders saw them. Jared Veldheer easily secured the majority of the Nation's votes to get the nod at Starting Center on Saturday. The results left Coach Cable with no choice. We speak, they listen--Veldheer is starting.
Veldheer will become the tallest player to ever start at Center in the NFL. Now just go out there and prove you can hack it with the big boys Veld and don't get Jason Campbell killed.
It's hard not to worry that he'll get overwhelmed, but if he or his coach doubt his ability to handle the job, they aren't letting on. Cable elaborated on how JV has given him confidence that he is ready for the Varsity. Cable:
The first thing you look for in a small school guy is, `Is he kind of fearful of competition?' That’s never once been the case on any day throughout camp.
Okay, so Veld's got the skills to instill the confidence that straightens out the learning curve inherit with the bigger than usual jump in talent. But he is also making the jump from Tackle to Center and not only is he switching positions he is switching while only spending part of practices at the Center position. That seems like too much to ask of any rookie--no mater where they went to school.
Cable, who has experience moving lineman around, was keeping an eye on the switch and how Veld handled it. Cable:
At first we worried about (the move) from tackle to center. He has handled that very well and really has not had any setbacks. He's a pretty bright guy. He's been able to handle it mentally. That's usually the challenge.
For his part, Veldheer seems to be taking it all in stride. Veld:
It’s two different worlds. You just have to transition yourself, outside to inside. This week I’ve been able to get back into that inside world more. It will be fun on Saturday.
You gotta love that quote. Let's hope it is fun on Saturday. A week ago it seemed to me utterly foolish and reckless to hope Veldheer could help solidify the glaring weakness of the Center position. While the task still seems to large to ask of any rookie the fact is, that the hope that Jared Veldheer may be able to man the Center position for the Raiders is on the radar screen now.
Also registering on the radar screen, but with smaller bleeps, sweeps and creeps are the following:
- Chris Johnson was back at practice. Cable didn't say if he expected him to play or not. It's just good to have him practicing. With the Raiders you never know until you know and a player missing time for a tight hamstring can sometimes turn into a player going into the hospital for a heart transplant.
- DHB practiced again today and made at least one nice play. I didn't see any mention of any drops or negative plays...or further fatigue issues.
- Cable said, and understandably so, that these will be the hardest cut-downs since he joined the Raiders. Saturday's game will go a long way to determining on which side of the bubble players will land.
- One player Cable commented on specifically was Thomas Howard. When asked about Howard's status, Cable had this to say:
I think we’ll know more after we get through this one. I’m not trying to avoid the question. I just think that the way this game is set up and some of the things that well be doing defensively we’ll have a chance to see where he is at.
- I don't know about you, but this seems like a ringing endorsement only opposite. I don't want to wish injuries upon anyone, so I'll just say I am hoping a team has a couple of surprise retirements at the LB position and gets desperate for help and the Raiders swap TH for a pick. Otherwise, it may be the chopping block for Howard.
- As we know, from following previous too long pre-seasons, the third game is the game you find with the most resemblance of a regular season game. This will be somewhat muted this year since these two neighbors/teams play again in week 6 and as Cable said they don't want to reveal too much. Cable:
Because we’re playing them later we probably won’t show everything we normally would.
- As much tape as teams have on other teams, I am not sure how much keeping things out of this game will deny the other team of any intimate knowledge of anything they'll be trying to do, but whatever. It does leave the Raiders more room to evaluate those bubble players by putting them in the situations they want to see them in. Bottom line is, this game 3 may be a slightly less revealing than other game 3's.
- When asked if Schilens was definitely out for Week One, Cable wouldn't rule it out. Cable:
I don’t know that yet. They’re telling us we can probably answer that question the first of next week.
- In related news: I am not ruling out winning the Lottery next week. I kid, I kid. Get well Chaz. I can't imagine how frustrating this is for him.
- In NFL news, it was "revealed" that the owners are in favor of an 18 game schedule in 2012. What? The owners want to make more money? Color me shocked at this revelation. Personally, I like 16 game seasons. Enough players are lost to injury through the course of 16 games. Adding two more just makes the playoffs seem to slide more towards a war of attrition than a battle of greatness.
- I'd love to hear Al's thoughts on the expanded schedule. If I had to bet, I'd say he is one of the few owners that is in favor of keeping the status-quo.
- Sources: Tafur and McDonald