The first team line was decidedly different today without Howard in the lineup. They moved Khalif Barnes - who usually mans the left guard position - to the left to the right side to replace Howard. Then in place of Barnes on the left side, rookie Gabe Jackson came in.
"Listen it's the next man up philosophy in the whole National Football League and any time there's injuries you don't like that but it creates an opportunity for somebody else," said Allen. "With him being out today we moved Gabe into the left side, Khalif over to right. It's something you have to do when you go through the season. You have to of a little bit of mixing and matching. Obviously you want to keep the same five guys in there, keep the continuity. But it allowed for some extra work for Gabe so that was good for him."
Barnes is versatile enough to make that switch as he had started at right tackle for two seasons for the Raiders. Jackson is primarily a left guard and is a rookie so that shift makes the most sense. Jackson had gotten some snaps with the first team at left guard in OTA's.
In a more interesting move, Matt McCants got all the first team reps at right tackle with Menelik Watson running with the second team. Dennis Allen would likely tell us not to read anything into this as he makes some shifts to strengthen competition at each position.
These moves offer somewhat of a preview as to who is the next man up at each spot and how the offensive line would look in case of injuries to certain players. It also gives some indication of how the coaches view where each player stands in their progress.
As for Howard, it is a minor finger injury that had him out today and Dennis Allen said it was more of a precautionary things than anything.