Not for a lack of trying, the Raiders are bound to Omar Gaither. The man who saved the Raiders from Rolando McClain last year has come to save the day once again.
This time he saves the Raiders from the injury bug which has severely depleted the team's linebacking corps. The Raiders have needed linebacker since before training camp began. More specifically, they've needed help at middle linebacker.
The team cut Travis Goethel on the eve of report day, leaving the team with just two middle linebackers on the roster - Nick Roach and Billy Boyko. There was talk of perhaps moving Miles Burris inside but he has no recovered from a surgery he had on his knee back in January.
But even with these injuries, the team went into camp with the roster they had. Then Boyko and Kaluka Maiava both went down with injury. It was officially time to get on the phone and get their guy - Omar Gaither.
"Listen, anytime you get guys that have played for you and understand what your system is, you want to make sure understand where they're at," said Dennis Allen. "We call them Tidewater guys. It's like calling up the Triple-A guy to come up to the majors. He was a guy that we felt good about the way he played for us last year, coming in toward the middle end of the year and at the end of the day started some games for us at the end of the year. Anytime you have those guys, you got to pay attention to where they're at and when you have injuries you got to come in and fill some spots. We had a couple of extra roster spots that we were able to make available for him."
Gaither felt pretty good about things as well considering it's his first football played since last season.
"When I got here last year, I didn't know anything as far as the system is concerned. So, it took a few weeks to kind of learn the system. But now, you feel like, ‘OK, well, I'm going to have to have a learning curve because I haven't been here' but it's always in the back of your brain somewhere. So, it's definitely good to be back on the same team.
"It's almost like riding a bike. I felt like I had never left, to be honest with you. But there is some period of time where you need to get back into the swing of things. But I pretty much got over that after the first few periods because these guys don't care, the coaches don't care what I've been doing. So, it's up to me to get myself up to speed."
The Raiders have him playing middle linebacker specifically. As if they have a choice. Before Gaither arrived, they had just about every linebacker moving inside and outside because there just wasn't enough guys.
"Well, with the depth that we are at linebacker, with some of the injuries, Omar had to go in there and play and he took a significant amount of reps today," said Allen.
Gaither didn't look like he had missed any time. He was flying around and showed no signs of taking it easy on his first day back. In pass rushing drills, he and fullback Jamize Olawale had some good battles with Gaither seeming to get the better of it. The second time he and Olawale met, the pads clapped together, Olawale's helmet came off and Gaither shucked him down as he rushed past him. The fans were impressed by the display.
Even so, getting right out here and hitting without any off-season camps or the first couple days of camp before contact is a bit of a shock to the system.
"Yeah, putting the pads on, greasing it up. You go from, I was in Charlotte, North Carolina, yesterday afternoon, working out, watching TV and today I'm doing full-pads drills against an NFL fullback. That's just the way it is."
"I got a little headache. I got a little ringer. But I'm good. It's good to always get to put the pads on after so long. You run around in jerseys and pants, all offseason you're working out in the gym. That's not really football. It's finally good to get out here."
The Raiders may not have wanted to have to make that phone call but they are glad Gaither was available when it came time to have to make it.