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NAPA – Alex Barron signed with the Raiders in an attempt to resurrect his career. When he signed this offseason, that seemed an unlikely prospect.
Barron was brought in to add veteran depth in training camp, possibly during the regular season.
Now he’s the Raiders starting left tackle.
Jared Veldheer suffered a torn triceps that will sideline him for most, if not all of the 2013 season. In light of that significant blow, the Raiders turn to a player who hasn’t played a regular-season game since 2010 and hasn’t been a full-time starter since ’09.
Barron has had a strong camp, but was still viewed as a backup to Veldheer and right tackle Khalif Barnes. If second-round Menelik Watson wasn’t hurt, he might be further down the depth chart.
The Raiders must rely heavily on him now.
“I think he’s done a nice job,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said after Wednesday’s practice. “Again, when the lights come on and he gets an opportunity to play a little bit more with the first group, we’ll see how he does.”
Barron has always had the physical tools to excel at offensive tackle. He’s 6-foot-8, 315 pounds and has solid technique. He was taken No. 19 overall by St. Louis in the 2005 draft, and was a full-time starter throughout his five-year rookie contract.
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He’s made 75 starts in 87 games at both tackle spots, but his career has fallen on hard times.
Barron started just one game with Dallas in 2010, moved on to New Orleans in 2011 and suffered a knee injury in camp that sent him to injured reserve. He spent the 2012 preseason with Seattle before being cut.
“What happened before can’t be changed,” Barron said. "It was a reality check, and I’ve keep my focus looking forward on what I can do as a football player and what I can do to help this team.”
The Raiders gave him one more chance to get back in the NFL. With Veldheer out, the stakes have been raised.
“It was an opportunity for me just to be in this camp. It’s another opportunity to go up on the depth chart and help the team as best I can,” Barron said. “We’re all disappointed for Jared. You never want a guy to go through what Jared has to go through. Our prayers are with him. But I have a job to do, and I’m going to continue to work and do what is required of me.”
Barron is not in Veldheer’s class, but his teammates have confidence that he’ll fare well.
“Alex is a gamer and a hard worker,” quarterback Matt Flynn said. “I trust that he’ll come in and get the job done.”