- John Clayton, NFL senior writer
NAPA, Calif. -- Five observations from Oakland Raiders training camp, gleaned from the team's practices:
1. Gallery on Guard
Once projected to be a franchise left tackle, Robert Gallery is now the starting left guard, an amazing disappointment for the second pick in the 2004 draft. At minicamp, he was competing against Barry Sims for the left tackle job and if that didn't work, he was expected to be the right tackle. Now, Sims and Cornell Green are the starting tackles. Left tackles are one of the most valuable positions on a team, and they are hard to find. Gallery was supposed to be one of those left tackles who could be a franchise mainstay for a decade. Now, you have to wonder what happens if he stays at left guard until the end of his contract. It will be hard for the Raiders to justify giving him big money to stay at that position. Since coming to Oakland, Gallery has had numerous coaches and position changes. His footwork wasn't right at right tackle and last year he struggled in pass protection on the left side. The Raiders are overhauling the philosophy of the line. They are using more zone blocking and trying to get more athleticism out of their blockers. Sims is back at his normal spot at left tackle next to Gallery, but obviously, nothing is etched in stone along the line. Jeremy Newberry is currently the second-team center, behind Jake Grove, but the coaches would love for Newberry to win the starting job and give the Raiders a blocker with a nasty attitude along the line. Still, the sight of Gallery at guard has to be a big disappointment.
2. Man on a Mission
Warren Sapp is even lighter than he was at minicamp, checking in at 282 pounds. He said there were times in the past month he was at 277, down from the 330 of last season. Sapp is looking for quickness and coming off a 10-sack season, Sapp is back to being a disruptive force. Sapp knows he can't stay on the field 70 plays as he did as a younger star in Tampa Bay. He figures to get 40 to 45 plays a game in a rotation, so getting lighter gives him more quickness. Plus, it's healthier. Sapp should get over 100 career sacks this season. He enters the year at 94½ in 182 regular-season games. He loves having Derrick Burgess as an end because he knows the value of having two pass-rushing threats. It was an injustice Sapp didn't make the Pro Bowl this past season. He had the vote of the fans but either the players or coaches dropped him out of top three at the position. Sapp is on a mission this season.
Robert Gallery was supposed to be a franchise left tackle the Raiders could count on for years. Instead, he's been a huge disappointment, writes John Clayton.