Raiders rookie round three selection Tony Bergstrom comes in as their highest pick in the 2012 draft. He was expected to step in immediately and compete for a starting job at guard. The Raiders picked up former Houston Texan zone specialist Mike Brisiel as a free agent to man the right guard spot and moved Cooper Carlisle to left guard. And thus far the two vets seem to be locking those spots down.
The most likely spot for Berstrom to have a shot at cracking the lineup would appear to be left guard. Carlisle is on a one year deal with the team and Bergstrom was chosen as his eventual replacement if not immediate replacement.
But the team has not been utilizing Bergstrom in practice primarily at left guard.
"It's been pretty even. I rotate both sides." Said Bergstrom. "So, I'll go one series left and one series at right." Q: You understand why they want you playing multiple positions?... You got to be versatile in this league. Versatility is a big thing in this league."
Versatility has been preached on both sides of the ball with the Raiders. Versatility was part of why the Raiders liked Begstrom so much. But they are focusing that versatility on making him a utility guard to keep their options open for replacing either Carlisle or Brisiel.
"I couldn't tell you if there's a better side [left or right guard]," said Bergstrom. "Both Cooper and Mike are great players. You never know what happens. I'm just ready to step up if one of them gets hurt or if they need me to at any point.
It isn't a mortal lock that Bergstrom will be a backup this season. As with many positions on this team, he will be given every opportunity to earn a starting job. So, though he is practicing as a utility reserve, he will be ready to start at either side if called upon.
"Everybody has to re-earn their spot. So, there's competition, there's the guys that, obviously, they have put in there right now. As of right now, those are the guys, but you never know what happens. Some people step up, some people drop down."
Many fans have been hoping Bergstrom could beat out Carlisle for the starting job at left guard. But if Carlisle plays well enough to keep it, Bergstrom will be a quality backup. And we already know Carlisle can play either guard position so likewise they would be in good hands should Bergstrom step up at some point.
An additional benefit is that the team won't have to carry a backup for all five spots on the offensive line on game day. They can carry four backup linemen on the active roster instead.
And if either Carlisle or Brisiel needs to be replaced Bergstrom would take over their spot.