CARSON – The Raiders' offensive line has been a pillar of stability and strength in recent seasons, consistently keeping Derek Carr clean and creating gaps in the run game.
Injuries have thrown things out of whack. Donald Penn was placed on injured reserve, and the other four starters were a least limited in practice heading into Sunday's 26-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Left tackle Kolton Miller now sports a huge brace on one knee. Left guard Kelechi Osemele didn't even make the trip. Brandon Parker was the lone healthy lineman, but he was making his first NFL start against a creative Chargers pass rush.
That led to a rough day at the office. Carr was sacked three times, hit on five other occasions and hounded in the backfield. The run game averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.
The Raiders appreciated the offensive line's effort, especially playing less than full strength.
"[Miller] is not 100 percent. Most of our linemen aren't," Gruden said. "I am proud of our two rookie tackles, proud of [fill-in left guard Jon Feliciano]. Three guys stepped in there. Two turnovers hurt us today."
The front was banged up, with Miller in particular fighting through a significant ailment. The rookie first-round pick didn't want to use injury to excuse a subpar outing.
"You have some nicks and some distractions during the week with all the treatment and other things," Miller said. "You have to learn to overcome those things and move on to the next play and not let it affect your game. I can definitely learn from that, and move on from there."
Parker agrees with Miller, that this can be used as a learning experience.
"They may be ugly reps, but they can still help you get better," the third-round pick said. "We're going to study the film, fix problems and try to avoid making the same mistakes."
The line made a few, but wasn't solely responsible for the result. Not by a long shot. There were lots of reasons why the Raiders lost this game, including big plays allowed on defense, failing to finish drives and losing the battle for field position.
"I thought the line played awesome, especially against this front," Carr said. "I don't' care about stats or the sack total, but it is what it is. I thought they played really well in a tough environment against some good rushers and a good blitz package. They held their own. I thought they were physical and competed their tails off. That's what you want to see, but they had some rookie things they'll want to clean up just like I did. When you lose it's easy to blame some rookie offensive tackles, but it's not like that. I think they did a great job."