The Raiders were excited Sunday to have their starting offensive line intact for the first time all season.
That happy feeling didn’t last one quarter.
Center Rodney Hudson, who’s been the rock of the offensive line, hurt his ankle while blocking on a running play just over nine minutes into what would be a 27-24 loss at Houston to the Texans. Hudson had to be helped off the field, then rode a cart into the locker room and could not return to the game.
It was the first time this season that the fivesome of tackles Kolton Miller and Trent Brown, guards Richie Incognito and Gabe Jackson, and Hudson had started together. Injuries to Brown and Jackson and a two-game suspension for Incognito had kept backups in the starting lineup every game until the one in Houston.
But, Hudson had been a constant. In fact, according to Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle, Hudson hadn’t missed a snap since 2015.
It’s uncertain how long Hudson will be out, or if he’ll be able to play in the Raiders’ next game Sunday in Oakland against the Detroit Lions.
Undrafted rookie Andre James, out of UCLA, played the rest of the game at center and did well, and was praised by quarterback Derek Carr for holding his own against Houston’s strong front seven.
Said James, to Kawahara: “I’ve just been preparing myself mentally for this kind of situation. Rod obviously is a great player who can’t be replaced. But it’s just the next-man-up mentality, and I tried to do my best. I’ve got some things to clean up, but felt good about it.”
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden says he’s “concerned” about Hudson’s status, but said he loved what James did in relief. “I’m really proud of that kid,” he said.
Hudson, a two-time Pro Bowler, is consistently ranked as among the NFL’s best pass-blocking centers, and is the leader and play-caller of the offensive line.
Sunday’s Raiders game in Oakland is set for kickoff at 1:05 p.m. The Raiders are 3-4. Detroit is 3-3.