Oakland Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski at 2012 training camp (photo by Levi Damien)
The Raiders came into this offseason with Stefen Wisniewski pegged as the team's starting center. The team let former starting center, Samson Satele, leave as a free agent and moved Wisniewski over from left guard as the anointed center of the future.
The future is supposed to be now but as of yet, Wisniewski has missed more practice time than he's actually attended. He suffered a shoulder injury last season that required offseason surgery. The rehab time cost him all of OTA's and minicamp.
In just one series in the Raiders first preseason game against the Cowboys, he was sidelined with a calf injury. He has not returned and head coach Dennis Allen isn't speaking with optimism about his return.
"Uh, don't know." Said Allen. "He couldn't practice today so I don't know how long it's gonna be... Probably more day to day, I'm hoping, but you know he's still not ready to go."
In total, the second year offensive lineman has spent just two weeks of practice with his teammates. This is a bit of a concern considering that duties of a center in the NFL. It is complicated enough playing guard in a zone scheme but center is far more technically demanding.
"He needs to get the reps. It's football and you don't just show up and play so every day he's not out here he's a little bit farther behind. But he's been keeping up mentally as far as taking the mental reps and in the meetings but it's hard to replace those physical reps you get here and in games."
In Wisniewski's absence, backup center Alex Parsons has gotten a lot of reps with the first team. At this point, the other lineman as well as Carson Palmer have actually worked with Parsons more than they have Wisniewski. Thus far, Dennis Allen likes what he sees from Parsons.
"He's done well. As a matter of facts he was competing the whole time and we were impressed with what we've seen out of him. Again, we've got a next man up philosophy. If Wiz is ready to go, great. If he's not then it's next man up and Alex will go in there and play and we expect to see results from him and he's given us every indication that we'll see that.
"We're gonna evaluate Wiz and we're gonna get him back out here as soon as we can and then whenever he's ready to go then we'll determine what's best for us as an offense and gives us the best chance to win.
"We're gonna have to go out there and play with whoever's available to go play. Obviously we want all our guys to be healthy and we want to get the guys back that aren't but we got a job to do and we got a job to do today to get ready for Detroit and the guys that are healthy and ready to go, we expect them to go out there and perform. So, that's kinda the attitude that we have."