Left guard has been much more interesting this offseason for the Raiders than you typically associate with the position. At the end of last season, it was secure with former All Pro Kelechi Osemele in place. Then the team traded him to the Jets and things went a little off the rails after that.
With Osemele’s departure, late season addition Denzelle Good was in line to start as he did late last season when Osemele was lost to injury. Despite this uncertainty at the position, the Raiders used no draft picks on it. They instead opted to sign formerly retired guard Richie Incognito despite knowing he would be facing some kind of suspension.
The moment Incognito arrived, Good was not at practice, leading to the possibility that Incognito’s addition was because of Good’s injury. What we didn’t know was how serious the injury was and how long he’d be out. Now we know.
“On the PUP Denzelle Good had lower back surgery five weeks ago,” said Mike Mayock. “Prognosis is plus or minus two months from around right now.”
Last month the NFL revealed Incognito would be suspended for two games and without Good healthy, the Raiders would have to scramble for a starter. That’s when they signed Jonathan Cooper who now is in line to start those two games while Incognito is suspended.
“We signed Jonathan Cooper, a former first round pick of Arizona, who’s been in the league for a while,” said Jon Gruden. “Played in a system last year that was very similar to the one that we run. I’m really impressed with Cooper. He came in healthy. He’s really smart and athletic. And to have a couple of veteran guards to play next to Kolton Miller is something that we’re excited about but we’re certainly going to have some competition this summer at left guard.”
The other player who has lined up at left guard this offseason has been undrafted rookie Lester Cotton Sr. Some others are capable of playing the position, but for now that’s your competition to start the season at left guard.