Offensive line close to right combination

Three and Out: Raiders undecided on starting quarterback situation

Offensive line close to right combination
November 20, 2013, 10:00 am
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The Raiders' offensive line's starting five showed a cohesiveness rarely seen from the Raiders front. (AP)


Pro Football Focus reported the Raiders have used 19 different offensive line combinations over 10 games this season. (USATSI)

Programming note: Watch Wednesday’s Raiders press conference with head coach Dennis Allen streaming live online right here at 1:20 p.m.

ALAMEDA – The Raiders offensive line was as healthy Sunday as it’s been all regular season. The line had improved depth, veteran savvy and, for the first time in forever, a front five as it sported in Week 1.

No surprise to hear the line had its best day. Against the league’s best defense, to boot.

[RELATED: Jennings closing in on McFadden's starting spot]

“Our offensive line had their best game protecting the quarterback, against Houston, against that front,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said.

While players subbed in and out at times, the starting five showed a cohesiveness rarely seen from the Raiders front.

Pro Football Focus did some heavy lifting and reported that the Raiders have used 19 different offensive line combinations over 10 games. There are 11 primary combos using five linemen, but that’s still an astonishing total.

According to PFF, the group that started Sunday’s 28-23 victory over the Houston Texans has played 19.3 percent of all snaps. Left tackle Khalif Barnes, left guard Lucas Nix, center Stefen Wisniewski, right guard Mike Brisiel and right tackle Tony Pashos started the season together.

[RELATED: McGloin creates quarterback controversy in Raiders win]

Just one group, with Andre Gurode swapped out for Lucas Nix at left guard, has played more at 20.3 percent.

Contrast it with the San Francisco 49ers offensive line, which started 32 consecutive games as a front five.

Just because the Raiders’ offensive line is playing better, it’s far from an elite group. According to PFF, quarterback Matt McGloin was under pressure on 46 percent of all dropbacks.

[RELATED: Raiders Week 11 Rewind: McGloin shines, defense holds on]

Pass protection will get better with one more reinforcement. Jared Veldheer was supposed to anchor the line at left tackle, but he’s been on injured reserve – with a designation to return – all season with a triceps injury.

Veldheer is back practicing, and could return as early as this week and strengthen an ailing line that’s finally getting healthy.

In week’s past, the Raiders were often one injury away from catastrophe. With Veldheer on the way back, the Raiders have experience throughout the depth chart.

“It’s nice to start getting people back instead of having people get hurt,” Wisniewski said. “Hopefully this trend will continue.”