ALAMEDA – Gabe Jackson was back in action after a long layoff. The star right guard hurt his knee during a joint training camp practice with the L.A. Rams and hadn't worked out with the team since.
Just being back with his team was an accomplishment, an important step in his return to action after five games missed. The Raiders left him on the 53-man roster hoping he could be back before midseason.
That should happen. Jackson said he hopes to return on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. If that doesn't work out, he should be ready for a Week 8 clash with the Houston Texans.
"I feel pretty good," Jackson said on Monday. "I'm excited to be back with my brothers. It has been a long time."
Jackson went more nine weeks between practices, a layoff that sent his position into flux. The Raiders tried several at right guard, settling on Denzelle Good as a quality placeholder on an offensive line off to a great start. The Raiders are averaging 4.9 yards per carry and rank fourth in pass blocking efficiency.
Jackson will pair with longtime running mate Rodney Hudson on the interior and work with Trent Brown on what should be a dominant right side.
Jackson was part of a dominant offensive line in 2016 that was integral to the Raiders playoff success. He believes this year's line could compete with that one.
"I think we could be even better," Jackson said. "If everybody stays the course and grinds it out, I think we could be pretty good."
This one operates in a different scheme but has executed well to this point. Jackson will energize and fortify this unit, which has been bolstered by Brown's addition in free agency.
"I don't like to toot my own horn, but I can say for sure Trent is a beast," Jackson said. "When he first came here, I knew it would be fun to play with him. Watching the things he has done recently and since he has been here, he's impressive."
Head coach Jon Gruden said that Jackson might be in his best shape, certainly over the past two seasons. The player did shy away from that compliment. He believes it's warranted after training hard during this down period.
"I had some time to work on myself," Jackson said. "There are some things I'm still working on, but I feel like I have gotten better. Now I'm ready to get back at it and play."