Wednesday we received the news that Raiders standout left tackle, Jared Veldheer, has a torn triceps and will be placed on injured reserve. Replacing him as the starter will be Alex Barron, who was signed to the team this off-season after two years out of football.
Barron has looked good this off-season but no one is under the impression that he is ready to step up and be the main guy to protect the quarterback's blindside. The former first round pick was considered somewhat of a bust in St Louis and after his first five seasons there, he was traded away.
"Alex Barron was a player that frustrated Rams fans when he was on the team. Honestly, as a blocker he was nothing special, but that wasn't why he was hated here, it was the penalties, during his time with the Rams I believe he was 2nd in penalties in the NFL. When the Rams drafted Rodger Saffold the team shipped Barron off to Cowboys for linebacker Bobby Carpenter in a trade. The Rams ended up cutting Carpenter, and Barron ended up costing the Cowboys a game (holding on a last second touchdown throw). I believe his future is as a 3rd OT, he's a player that can stay healthy, but besides depth there's not much upside"
We're talking about a guy who last off-season tried out for the 49ers and left unsigned, couldn't make the Seahawks roster out of camp, and didn't receive a single workout request this off-season. He was a forgotten man.
"Once you're away [from the NFL] you kinda just sorta fade away," said Barron. "That's just kind of how the league is. Nothing I could do about it. Only thing I could do was keep working and keep waiting and that's pretty much all that was."
Barron was determined to get back into the eyes and minds of the NFL, so he had to make it happen on his own.
"It was actually a pro day back at school," said Barron. "I had a little trouble getting workouts because I hadn't been in last season. . . So, I just took it upon myself knowing at my school there were gonna be a lot of coaches, head coaches, scouts, whatever the case was. I had nothing to lose. I was in shape and I had been working so it was like ‘well, only thing I can do is show them what I got'."
It's quite a comeback story but this twist was not anticipated. Veldheer has been the Raiders' fulltime starter for going on three seasons now. There was no reason to think that wouldn't be the case again this season. Even after he first hurt his triceps, the MRI came back negative and he returned to practice the next day. He even started in the Raiders' first preseason game.
But that's that. Veldheer is to have surgery on the torn triceps and the Raiders will put him on the partial season injured reserve. That means at this moment, Barron will be the team's starting left tackle for at least the first eight games of the season, and perhaps more.
Not to say he can't surprise a lot of people who had given up on him. Dennis Allen has liked what he has seen from Barron thus far in camp.
"I've been impressed with the things Alex Barron has done and that's been a nice surprise for us," said Allen. "He's a guy that's kind of getting that second chance and he's taking advantage of it. . . [He's] had a nice camp so far. I'm really anxious to see what a guy like that does when he gets into the preseason games, and see if what he's been doing out here on the practice field translates into the game."
Allen and the Raiders got to see Barron in the team's first preseason game against the Cowboys' second team defense. He held up well. Now they will see him against the first team in the preseason as well as the regular season. Anxious is probably the right word.
The last thing the Raiders needed right now was another question mark on the offensive line. Now the only sure thing they have on the offensive line is center, Stefen Wisniewski.
Barron was getting work at right and left tackle and was expected to perhaps battle Khalif Barnes for a starting job on the right side. Now the job once again belongs solely to Barnes, especially considering rookie Menelik Watson has been injured and has yet to participate in a full day of training camp.
Alex Barron already had an interesting comeback story. The plot just thickened.