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Raiders countdown to kickoff: 77 is Austin Howard, who wore it best?

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Who's wearing it now: OT Austin Howard

Howard was the Raiders’ top free agent signing in 2014. He had worked with Tony Sparano with the Jets where Sparano saw his strength was run blocking and brought him to Oakland to play guard. The 6-7, 333-pound lineman was signed to a lucrative long term deal as the answer at the right guard spot. It turned out not to be quite the answer the Raiders were looking for.

When Jack Del Rio took over as head coach, he and new Oline coach Mike Tice opted to move Howard back to right tackle where he had played the first four years of his NFL career.

Since then Howard has entered each offseason in a competition for the right tackle spot. Former Raiders second round pick won that competition the past two offseasons only to go down injured, leaving Howard to step in as the starter. In 2015 Howard was serviceable at the position and last season was the weak link, leading to Watson stepping back into the starting job late in the season once he was healthy.

Once again, Howard is battling for the job. He is rehabbing from a shoulder injury, so he didn’t see any time in OTA’s or minicamp. It was newcomer Marshall Newhouse who took first team reps. Howard carries a $6 million price tag, so if the Raiders like Newhouse as the starter, Howard may be considered too expensive to remain on the team as a backup, putting his future with the team in question.

Who wore it best: DE Lyle Alzado (1982-85)

He joined the Raiders in 1982 at the tail end of an already long NFL career including the first eight years with the Denver Broncos. His first season with the Raiders was their first in Los Angeles. It was also the year the league began officially recording sacks.

When Alzado arrived in LA, he was 33 years old and just a season removed from being named All Pro with the Cleveland Browns. In his second season with the Raiders, he got his first and only Super Bowl ring. He finished with 24 sacks in 4 seasons and retired a Raider.

In 1992, just 7 years after his NFL career ended, he died of a brain cancer at the age of 43. In the last years of his life, he became an outspoken voice against the use of steroids among athletes as he said it broke down his body, though they never found any connection between the steroids and the cancer.