When the Raiders lost starting left tackle Jared Veldheer last week to a partially torn triceps, Oakland turned to veteran Alex Barron.
Barron, who’d been having a good training camp, appeared destined to make the team as a swing tackle behind Veldheer and Khalif Barnes. But with the Veldheer injury – which could keep him out more than half the season – the Raiders hoped Barron would be up to his new task.
After one game, it doesn’t appear so.
Barron’s play as a member of an offensive line that gave up seven sacks in a loss to the Saints in New Orleans Friday night was a big dropoff from what he’d been doing earlier in training camp. While Barron wasn’t responsible for all seven sacks, of course, he shared much of the responsibility for being unable to control New Orleans’ blitzing, stunting 3-4 front. Barron was singled out on the second sack by Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune after reviewing film of the game. On that play, right defensive end Cameron Jordan simply beat Barron one-on-one for a 9-yard sack of starting quarterback Matt Flynn, Triplett said.
After losing Veldheer, possibly their best offensive lineman, the Raiders are looking for answers this week for their front five.
Though rookie second-round pick Menelik Watson has not been able to play or even practice much because of a calf injury, it’s possible that if he can get back on the field he can work his way into the left-tackle spot if Barron proves to be a detriment.
“We’ve got to get the best five guys that give us the best chance of success,” head coach Dennis Allen said this week. “Whoever those five guys are, we’ve got to find out. I think Watson (at left tackle) is a possibility. It’s something that we’ll look at.”
Center Stefen Wisniewski said the offensive line reviewed film of the Saints game after the debacle and believes the mistakes can be corrected, beginning this Friday night when the Bears play the Raiders in exhibition game No. 3 in Oakland.
“We really feel we beat ourselves with those mistakes,” Wisniewski told reporters. “The errors are things that we can fix. Everything’s correctable. We can be good, but we’re not were we need to be yet.”
Another voice chimed in this week, however, that casts doubt about whether Barron is even a short-term solution as Veldheer’s replacement.
Monday, former St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney said Barron never was passionate about the game during his five seasons in St. Louis after being taken with the 19th overall pick of the 2005 draft.
“He does not like anything about the game except getting paid,” Devaney said on ESPN’s “NFL Insiders.”
If Barron doesn’t improve markedly against the Bears, it’s very possible the Raiders will be scouring the waiver wires before opening day, looking for a veteran tackle to fill Veldheer’s shoes.