The Las Vegas Raiders look great to start the season but the offensive line is quickly becoming a major concern. In Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team went into the game without two starters in Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good. They then lost starting right tackle Alex Leatherwood in the first half. Considering the team had a serious injury scare with quarterback Derek Carr, the offensive line could be an issue.
It appears that Leatherwood’s injury isn’t too serious and Incognito should be returning soon. Despite that, the Raiders have decided to add more depth. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Las Vegas has signed offensive tackle Jackson Barton off the New York Giants’ practice squad.
The first thing that sticks out about Barton is his size. He’s 6-foot-7 and 302 pounds. He’s a mountain of a man, which is exactly what the Raiders like out of their offensive lineman. Barton also recently spent a year with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was part of the 2019 squad that won a Super Bowl. Though he’s been in the NFL since 2019, he has yet to play a regular-season game. The Raiders are signing him to the active roster but the hope is likely that he won’t need to play anytime soon.
Barton was All-Pac-12 First Team in 2018 at Utah but fell to the seventh round of the 2019 draft. If anybody can work some magic on him, it will be Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable.
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Raiders Should Continue to Look for OL Depth
Heading into the season, the offensive line was the biggest question mark for the Raiders. They introduced three new starters – two of them had a combined one start in center Andre James and Leatherwood. Two weeks into the season and those concerns are even bigger.
Leatherwood is banged up and is the worst graded tackle in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. Incognito hasn’t played a game yet and it’s fair to question how his body will hold up the rest of the year. James has been a massive downgrade from longtime starter Rodney Hudson. Left tackle Kolton Miller has been rock solid but had two costly holding penalties in Week 2. Despite that, he’s still one of the better tackles in the NFL. Though the Raiders have signed Barton, they should continue to look for depth all over the offensive line.
Raiders OL Deserves Time to Develop
While it’s easy to criticize the Raiders’ offensive line right now, the team is 2-0 and the offense has been scoring points – 59 in two games. It’s important to keep in mind that the offensive line is incredibly young. Between James, Leatherwood and guard John Simpson, the Raiders have three players under the age of 25 on their offensive line.
They’ve also had to play two elite defenses in the Steelers and Ravens. With the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers on the docket, the team will continue to face tough defenses. The offensive line will likely struggle but should be well equipped for when the Raiders start playing some weaker defensive lines. It’s fair to be worried about the offensive line right now but they deserve time to develop, especially since it hasn’t kept the team from winning right now.