The Oakland Raiders used the offseason to revamp their offensive line. The team added left tackle Donald Penn, right guard Austin Howard, and drafted guard Gabe Jackson. Oakland also added Kevin Boothe via free agency to go along with starting center Stefen Wisniewski and projected starting right tackle Menelik Watson. All those additions have left 2012 third-round pick Tony Bergstrom in the rear view mirror when it comes to the 2014 season.
“I like the versatility, I like the depth,” head coach Dennis Allen said of the offensive line. “It’s all about using this time in OTAs, mini-camp coming up next week and then when we get into training camp, meshing together as a unit. The one thing that we didn’t have an opportunity to do a lot of last year was get the same five guys working together and I think that’s important, especially at that position because all five guys at that position, the offensive line, really have to work as one.”
When the Raiders selected Bergstrom they were running offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's zone blocking scheme and Bergstrom was thought of as an ideal fit. The third-round compensatory selection used to take Bergstrom was Oakland's first pick in that 2012 Draft. The Raiders had high hopes for Bergstrom, but Knapp's offense flamed out in grand fashion and the team moved to a power running scheme. Bergstrom also fell behind with a foot injury that cost him the entire 2013 season.
The 6-5, 310 pound Bergstrom started three of four preseason games in 2013 and had a very competitive training camp battle with undrafted Lucas Nix for the starting left guard spot. Bergstrom injured his foot in the final preseason game and was placed on injured reserve. It could not have come at a worse time as Bergstrom was trying to make the transition to the new scheme and still continue his learning process as a young player.
For the upcoming 2014 season, Bergstrom is a total after thought. Even though he enters his third season, he is already 27-years-old. It is a long shot that he will be competing for a starting spot. The far more likely situation is Bergstrom is fighting for a roster spot. The former third-round pick is going to have to display the attributes Oakland saw when they drafted him. If he can show he belongs, Bergstrom can provide quality depth. It would be a shame for the Raiders to part ways with a third-round pick after only two seasons, one of which was spent on injured reserve and the other his rookie year. On the other hand, the Raiders have brought in competition to push players and if Bergstrom does not respond, he could have a difficult time making the final roster.
Tags: Austin Howard, Dennis Allen, Donald Penn, Football, Gabe Jackson, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, offensive line, OTAs, Tony Bergstrom
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