NAPA –- Many believe rookie third-round pick Gabe Jackson will be the Raiders starting left guard this season.
Just two practices into training camp, he’s not even on the first team.
Veteran Khalif Barnes still owns that spot, as he did during the offseason program. The converted tackle has played well there, though it’s uncertain how long he can fend off the young buck.
“I’ve said from the beginning, we’re going to let the best five guys go out there and play,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “If Gabe proves to be one of those guys, then he’ll get that opportunity. If not, then he’ll be one of the guys that I think can come in and potentially help us at some point during the season.”
[RELATED: Age-defying Antonio Smith ready to 'disrupt']
Barnes volunteered to play inside once left tackle Jared Veldheer recovered from triceps surgery late in 2013, and has worked there all offseason. He could certainly become a swing tackle if asked, and that will depend on Jackson’s progress.
“The thing I like about Gabe Jackson is he’s a very strong, powerful player,” Allen said. “I think the biggest thing that he’s got to be able to do is be able to learn and adjust when things begin to move on him. That’s one of the biggest things. It’s easy when you’re sitting in the meeting and your looking up on the board and you see a lot of X’s and O’s, but once you come out here on the football field, those X’s and O’s begin to move and you’ve got to be able to adjust and make quick decisions. That’s where he’s at on the learning curve.”
The team will don pads for the first time on Sunday, a real test for linemen. How he fares in the coming weeks of physical football, games included, will dictate what the Raiders do at the position. But, for right now, Barnes is still in the driver’s seat.
Other notes from the practice field:
-- Linebacker Kaluka Maiava suffered the first in-practice injury of training camp. He strained a hamstring late in Friday’s session and sat out on Saturday. Allen did not give a timetable for his return.
-- Cornerback Tarell Brown left practice early with an illness.
-- Kicker Sebastian Janikowski provided one of the highlights of Saturday’s practice, which was conducted in front of approximately 1,000 Raiders season ticket holders. The team ran a hurry-up field goal drill – the set up didn’t include time outs – and Janikowski rushed onto the field, punter Marquette King set up a fine hold and he drilled it through the uprights from beyond 50 yards.
-- King was not to be outdone. He sent a booming punt – maybe 70 yards in the air – that returner Maurice Jones-Drew couldn’t corral.
Sio Moore saw significant snaps with the first team at weakside linebacker on Saturday. Miles Burris took those reps Friday, and for most of the offseason program. Those two should battle for a starting spot throughout camp.
-- Receivers and tight ends had a rough day. There were tons of drops despite accurate passing. Andre Holmes, David Ausberry, Denarius Moore and Seth Roberts made significant drops.
-- Tight end Jake Murphy took a hard shot running a route in practice and was helped off the field. He did not appear to be seriously hurt.