When the Raiders drafted Stefen Wisniewski out of Penn State in the second round of April’s NFL Draft, the thinking was he would give Oakland a solid young base in the middle of the offensive line.
The fact he’s the nephew of former Raiders standout Steve Wisniewski had nothing to do with the pick, said head coach Hue Jackson.
“He’s here because he can help the Oakland Raiders win football games,” Jackson said at the time. “And that’s why he’s going to play center for us.”
Well, yes and no. He will help the Raiders, but it won’t be at center.
With just one exhibition game remaining, Wisniewski The Younger apparently has earned his way into the starting five, but at left guard. And the offensive line, which had some question marks coming into camp, has performed surprisingly well. It’s protected quarterback Jason Campbell and his backups and helped spring running backs, particularly against the Saints Sunday night.
In a conference call with reporters Monday, Jackson declined to name his starting unit, but hinted that the fivesome mostly in place this preseason – left tackle Jared Veldheer, left guard Wisniewski, center Samson Satele, right guard Cooper Carlisle and right tackle Khalif Barnes – will be the starting group Sept. 12 when the Raiders open the season at Denver.
“I’m not going to tell you I’m set,” Jackson said, “but I’m definitely moving in that direction.”
If it all holds true, Wisniewski will be filling the spot vacated by Robert Gallery, who left in free agency. Satele, the center in 2010, was re-signed as a free agent in early August. The Wisniewski-Satele shuffle helped stabilize the unit.
Jackson said Wisniewski has “done some very good things” since moving into the left guard spot.
Wisniewski told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group after Sunday’s game that he’s likely to start at guard.
“It looks like that,” he said. “Certainly things could change at any point, but it seems like that might be my permanent spot.”
The line gets one last dress rehearsal Friday night against the Seahawks in Seattle.