Raiders observers were a bit baffled during the NFL draft this spring when, after selecting offensive tackle Kolton Miller with their first-round choice, the team took Brandon Parker – another offensive tackle – with its top pick in the third round.
It especially seemed odd with Pro Bowler Donald Penn firmly in position on the left side and after the team had selected tackles David Sharp, Jylan Ware and Vadal Alexander in the 2017 and 2016 drafts.
Yet as the Raiders head into their fifth game of this 2018 season with a 1-3 record, both Miller and Parker will be in the starting lineup Sunday.
With Miller at left tackle since the start of the season, Penn was moved to the right side, where his performance has been hot and cold. Now, Penn is on injured reserve (with a groin problem) and Parker will start on the right side Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Parker played quite a bit in last week’s overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns, in on 57 snaps because of the injury to Penn.
So, at least he’s going into this game with some experience. Going into last week, he’d only played on special teams and missed one game entirely with a slight injury.
Now Parker is set to start against a team that has a couple of standout defensive ends in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa (though it appears Bosa won’t play this week).
“We’re confident,” said head coach Jon Gruden of Parker Wednesday. “He’s back, he’s healthy and he played pretty good when he got in there and played. This will be a great opportunity for him.”
According to Matt Schneidman of the Bay Area News Group, Sunday will mark the first time since at least 1970 that the Raiders have started two rookie tackles in the same game.
Miller has received rave reviews through his first four games, with quarterback Derek Carr calling him “awesome.”
“So, you don’t feel like you have two rookies because they’re so talented, but at the end of the day they are, and it’s something that we’ve got to do a good job of just helping those guys out,” Carr told Schneidman.
The Raiders-Chargers game Sunday at Carson’s Home Depot Center is set for a 1:05 p.m. kickoff.